The Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce is generally supportive of the provincial budget unveiled by Finance Minister Mike de Jong on Tuesday.
But executive director Allan Asaph said his group is “not necessarily thrilled” about an increase in the corporate income tax rate. Corporate taxes would rise one point to 11 per cent effective April 1, accelerating by a year an increase announced in 2012.
“Combined with the return to the PST, it does place a lot more pressure on business,” Asaph said.
“We enjoy an extremely low corporate tax rate now, and although we don’t ever like to see an increase in taxes, the modest increase they have proposed still will leave us in a competitive position. But for business at this point in time, because of a lot of uncertainty around the return of the PST, it does place an additional financial burden.”
That said, Asaph was glad to see the government propose a balanced budget.
“We recognize they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them to do this,” he said.
“The overall move of the government to be a little more fiscally conservative and look to a balanced budget, especially as we’re heading into an election, is a positive sign that they’re trying to manage the economy effectively.”
The chamber would have liked to have seen a greater financial commitment to post-secondary education and job skills training.
“The availability of a skilled workforce is still an issue that’s a great concern,” Asaph said. “In Abbotsford, we’re trying to attract more high-end type of employment, and we’re trying to encourage companies to innovate and expand their capabilities. Those types of jobs require skilled workers.
“The advantage we have locally is the access to UFV, which is very innovative in trying to create the right educational training. We have a lot of flexibility . . . we just need the right financial resources to get those programs up and running.”
Chamber members will have an opportunity to hear directly from de Jong, the Abbotsford West MLA, at a breakfast meeting this Friday at 7:30 a.m. at the Abbotsford Banquet Centre.