How did B.C.’s parties score on addressing “Retail’s Election Agenda”?

As British Columbians prepare to go to the polls on May 14th, RCC is providing our members with a “B.C. Election Score Card” analyzing the platforms of B.C.’s two main political parties and outlining how each party has indicated how they will address B.C. retailers’ top priorities. 

In RCC’s “Retail’s Election Agenda”, you stated that

B.C. Retailers NEED:

  • A stronger, more productive economy – stabilized government spending, improved consumer confidence, stable labour relations, address cross border shopping, and grow B.C.’s labour pool.
  • Lower costs for retailers and consumers – reduce red tape, keep minimum wage affordable, and increase harmonization.
  • Cost effective waste diversion – implement cost-effective, efficient waste diversion and Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) programs to meet environmental goals.

RCC Analysis of Platforms:

Liberals:

The Liberal’s platform scores fairly well in terms of aligning with the retail sector’s priorities on building a stronger, more productive economy.  Stabilizing government spending and returning to balanced budgets (although tax hikes in 2013 were used to achieve this) are highlighted in the party’s platform.  The Liberal’s have also pledged to maintain a stable, positive labour relations environment which is very important to B.C. retailers.

In terms’ of controlling costs for B.C. retailers and their customers, the Liberal’s have promised to reduce a number of taxes they increased in the 2013 budget and freeze personal income tax rates for the next 5 years.  They have also committed to lowering B.C.’s small business tax rate.  The Liberal platform was silent on stewardship programs impacting retailers so retailers could expect no significant policy changes in this area should the Liberal’s win re-election.

(Source) BC Liberals

NDP:

The NDP’s platform doesn’t align as well with “Retail’s Election Agenda”.  Retailers are calling for stable labour relations but the B.C. NDP and Leader Adrian Dix have promised to make significant changes to labour legislation to make it easier for unions to certify within 90 days of taking office.  They promise to beef up employment standards enforcement, give unions a greater voice at the WCB, increase the minimum call out time by 1 hour and index B.C.’s minimum wage to the cost of living.  On a positive note, the NDP have promised to expand the BC Training Tax Credit to small and medium sized businesses, which should allow many B.C. retailers to take advantage of the tax credit.

In terms of controlling costs for retailers and their customers, the NDP have promised to raise corporate income taxes as well as personal income taxes for B.C.’s top earners.  The NDP has promised to ban union and corporate political donations.  It should be noted that other provinces that have banned corporate and union donations have usually also introduced government subsidies, commonly referred to as a “vote tax”, which funnels taxpayer dollars to political parties based on the number of votes they receive in a provincial election.  The NDP’s platform is silent on the introduction of such a “vote tax”.

While silent on the province’s stewardship programs, the NDP has promised to ban cosmetic pesticides if elected.

(Source) BC NDP

 

RCC Election Scorecard

 

Here is how each of B.C.’s main political parties said they would address your priorities:

A stronger, more productive economy:

Liberals:                                                                     NDP:

  • Will not change provisions surrounding secret ballots during a certification drive
  • Work with the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council and TransLink to identify possible sources of funding for transit improvements. Any new revenue sources would then be subject to a referendum to be held at the same time as the municipal elections in November 2014
  • Further expand the Small Business Venture Capital Program by an additional $5 million in 2015/16
  • Lower the small business tax rate from 2.5 per cent to 1.5 per cent no later than the 2017/18 fiscal year with at least a 0.5% reduction in 2015/16
  • Encourage partnerships between employers and high schools to offer improved opportunities and scholarships for students
  • Provide help to school districts to coordinate regional sessions to review labour needs and opportunities
  • Limit government spending growth to nominal GDP in the province
  • Form a panel to recommend changes to BC’s labour legislation to make it easier for unions to certify within 90 days of coming into office
  • Invest new resources to proactively enforce basic workplace standards
  • Expand the BC Training Tax Credit Program for small and medium-sized businesses that hire co-op students from BC’s colleges, institutions and universities
  • Work with small and local business owners to implement the BC Small Business Accord
  • Establish a “Local Business First” government procurement policy
  • Reduce fees for existing licensed infant and toddler care by 20 per cent, saving families an average of $2,000 per year and increase spaces
  • Invest $210 million per year in a BC Family Bonus program.

 

Lower costs for retailers and consumers:

Liberals:                                                                     NDP:

  • Freeze personal income tax rates for the next five years
  • Freeze the carbon tax for five years to allow jurisdictions to catch up to B.C.’s leadership position
  • Remove the two-year increase to the personal income tax rate for those earning in excess of $150,000 as scheduled on January 1, 2016
  • Return the general corporate tax rate to 10 per cent no later than 2018
  • Make the new British Columbia Early Childhood Tax Benefit available to parents with children under six years of age, effective April 1, 2015
  • Introduce a back-to-school tax credit for parents of children in grades K-12 of up to $250 per child
  • Recognize the time, money and effort teachers contribute to their school community and the students they teach by creating a tax credit of $500 per year for teachers who coach sports/arts
  • Introduce a children’s fitness equipment tax credit providing a tax credit of up to $250 per child per year
  • Starting April 1, 2014, tie minimum wage increases to the cost of living and eliminate the server wage
  • Tie all income assistance rates to inflation, double earning exemptions for employable recipients and allow a child maintenance exemption
  • Increase income assistance rates for all singles and couples by $20 per month within two years
  • Increase the minimum call-in shift to three hours from the current two
  • Establish a new governance system for the Workers Compensation Board to give employers and unions a greater role in decision making
  • Increase corporate income tax from 11 to 12 percent effective October 1, 2013
  • Reinstate the Corporation Capital Tax on financial institutions effective October 1, 2013
  • Increase the personal income tax rate on British Columbians earning more than $150,000 annually to 19 per cent.
  • Expand the carbon tax on oil and gas operations
  • Ban union and corporate donations

Cost effective waste reduction:

Liberals:                                                                     NDP:

  • The platform is silent on stewardship programs effecting B.C. retailers

 

  • Ban the use of cosmetic pesticides
  • Platform is otherwise silent on stewardship programs effecting B.C. retailers

 

Next Steps:

Following the May 14th election, RCC will be reaching out to B.C.’s newly elected MLAs.  Once a new cabinet is sworn in, RCC will be contacting key cabinet ministers to set up meetings to inform the new government on retails’ priorities and agenda for the province.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Mark Startup at:  [email protected] or (604) 730-5252