What is 2019 going to bring? As I reflect on what’s taken place this past year, I do have some concerns for the business community. A constant theme I heard in 2018 was that finding and retaining staff is a real struggle for any number of industries. Employers previously offering minimum wage are offering more to attract staff, and in many cases they are still not finding enough people. Lack of staff logically means that businesses cannot grow, develop and further contribute to the economy. In the worst cases, businesses are closing. In the better cases, businesses are making do as best they can, from owners working the front lines to curtailing opening hours.
The introduction of the Employer’s Health Tax will put further pressure on business owners and of course they are not alone. As municipalities put together their 2019 budgets and consider how to fund the EHT, one option will be to increase property taxes. This has a ripple effect across communities. Another impact is the Speculation Tax, which is going ahead despite strong concerns voiced at the Union of BC Municipalities gathering in September. In the WestShore, Langford Mayor Stew Young is already seeing the impact of investment going elsewhere and construction projects being deferred as a result of this tax. This impacts jobs and the overall strength of the local economy and has a ripple effect on both disposable income and payment for necessities.
So, what can we do about these pressures? We need to keep speaking up. Talk to your local Chamber and provide them with information and data about how your business is impacted so that they have tangible facts to use in their advocacy work. I also encourage you to join the BC Chamber of Commerce MindReader platform. Through this platform, the BC Chamber will ask you about topics impacting on business. Your response will allow you to directly contribute to the insight that the BC Chamber brings forth to both the provincial and the federal governments.
Please go to bcchamber.org for more information on the MindReader platform. For more information on the WestShore Chamber of Commerce, please go to westshore.bc.ca

Julie Lawlor is the Executive Director at the WestShore Chamber of Commerce.
You can reach her at jlawlor@westshore.bc.ca