BC — The Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) commends the BC government for implementing emergency programs to support businesses, individuals, and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The total funding is estimated to cost $5 billion, including $2.2 billion earmarked for the business community.

“In this unprecedented time, it is critical that all levels of government take active and coordinated measures to support individual British Columbians and the businesses that employ them,” said Lori Mathison, FCPA, FCGA, LLB, president and CEO of CPABC. “The message from the provincial government is clear ­— we need to work together to get through this crisis. The policies announced today are a big step in the right direction.”

“As we better understand the economic implications of COVID-19, it is paramount that we find ways to mitigate both the short and long-term economic damage. The provincial government’s supports will help British Columbians get through this challenging period,” continued Mathison.

The announcement covers many new policies, including:

  • A 50 per cent reduction in provincial property tax rates for commercial properties (class 4-6) for 2020, which will cost the government $500 million but will provide an estimated average savings of $4,000 for an urban business.
  • Tax deferment until September 30. The province has pushed back many provincial tax deadlines to September 30, including provincial sales tax and the employer health tax. The scheduled carbon tax increase and new PST registration requirements on e-commerce and the PST on sweetened carbonated drinks will be delayed and reviewed by September 30, 2020.
  • $1.5 billion to plan for the province’s recovery, which will be allocated based on recommendations from a newly formed “Recovery Task Force” made up of participants from labour and business sectors.
  • Direct payment of $1,000 for workers affected by COVID-19, which is available for both EI-eligible and non-EI eligible workers.
  • Top up to Climate Action Tax Credit, which will provide up to an additional $218 for adults and be provided to over 80% of British Columbians.
  • Employment standard changes, which will allow employees to take unpaid protected leave due to COVID-19 related issues. Those laid off will then be able to access employment insurance to mitigate lost wages.

These measures follow the Conference Board of Canada’s updated economic forecast which is projecting that Canadian economy will decline by 1.1 per cent in GDP in 2020. The unemployment rate is projected to grow rapidly, reaching 7.7 per cent in the second and third quarter of 2020.

The province has also indicated that it will be monitoring the situation closely and will provide additional supports if necessary.

“Coming into this crisis with relatively low debt levels and a surplus provides the government with flexibility to provide more emergency relief as needed, to support residents and employers across the province. As Minister James highlighted, this funding is a starting point and we expect further announcements as we better understand the effects of the evolving pandemic,” Mathison concluded.

www.bccpa.ca