Harmac pulp mill near Nanaimo: forest products companies are major users of electricity.

Harmac pulp mill near Nanaimo: forest products companies are major users of electricity.

B.C. considers business sales tax relief

Finance Minister Mike de Jong considers giving up $160 million in provincial sales tax revenue added to business electricity bills

B.C. is the only place in North America that charges sales tax on business electricity bills, a cost the finance ministry is considering removing to help the struggling forest and mining industries.

The issue was identified in November when an expert panel on tax competitiveness reported back to Finance Minister Mike de Jong. It noted that the province takes in $160 million from provincial sales tax (PST) on electricity bills, part of a generally high-tax environment for business and investment in B.C. relative to the national average.

[See commission report below]

Last week, mayors of eight forest-dependent communities wrote to de Jong and Premier Christy Clark, asking for PST relief for lumber, pulp and paper producers in their communities.

“Communities in rural B.C. are not experiencing the same economic growth enjoyed in Lower Mainland communities,” wrote the mayors of North Cowichan, Quesnel, Vernon, Port Alberni, Mackenzie, Powell River, Taylor and Port Alice.

“Eliminating the PST on electricity for businesses is meaningful action you can take that would not only help the forestry industry and the jobs it supports, but will also benefit the mining industry and other energy-intensive job creators in our province.”

The finance ministry issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging that de Jong is “considering this proposal along with many other spending priorities as we prepare the upcoming provincial balanced budget and longer-term fiscal plan.”

Energy Minister Bill Bennett said the issue has come up over the years, but the Commission on Tax Competitiveness report has created a “unified focus” among groups including the B.C. Business Council, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Vancouver Board of Trade as well as mining and forestry associations.

It would be a cabinet decision that would only be revealed when de Jong tables the provincial budget Feb. 21.

“Taking PST off the purchase of electricity would help pulp mills, would help the sawmills, would help the mines,” Bennett said Wednesday. “It would help small business, and B.C. is one of the only, if not the only jurisdiction that charges sales tax on purchase of electricity.”

The commission found that B.C.’s PST is an impediment to investment in machinery and equipment, which it found to be the third lowest of any Canadian province.

CommissionOnTaxCompetitiveness Nov 2016 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd

Just Posted

The end of an Echo
The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

Princeton wildfire phots courtesy of Debbie Lyon.
UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers
VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

Aerial view south of Williams Lake Friday afternoon shows dry lightning storm passing over, leaving fire starts behind. Lightning sparked more than 100 new fires Friday. (Black Press)
VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017
DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase
59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

(Flickr/Andreas Eldh)
Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage
Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds
UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Photo by: WeissPaarz.com
Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert
UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

A university study finds that about nine per cent of Canada’s Grade 11 and 12 students – roughly 66,000 teens – have driven within an hour of drinking and 9.4 per cent drove after using marijuana.                                 Photo: Now-
Leader file
One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records
Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read