BC budget provides long-awaited payroll cost relief for small businesses but leaves many challenges unaddressed

Vancouver, February 22, 2024. The BC government’s decision to finally increase the Employer Health Tax (EHT) payroll exemption threshold to $1M comes as welcome news for the province's economy, although concerns around the rising cost of doing business and ballooning debt remain.

"We are pleased to see the BC government finally taking action to address rising payroll costs in the province," stated Jairo Yunis, CFIB’s economist for Western Canada. "Doubling the EHT exemption threshold will alleviate financial burdens for many small businesses, allowing them to reinvest in their operations and contribute to economic growth."

CFIB has long advocated for measures to reduce the cost of doing business in British Columbia, including increasing the EHT’s payroll exemption threshold to levels similar in other provinces like Ontario ($1M) and Manitoba ($2.25M), even before the pandemic. According to a recent CFIB survey, almost two-thirds of BC small business will benefit from this measure. For a small business with 10 median wage employees, this translates to nearly $3,600 in annual business savings.

"While we celebrate this positive development, it's important to recognize that British Columbia is facing significant challenges that this budget leaves unaddressed”, emphasized Yunis. "Sluggish economic growth, dwindling business investment, large deficits, stringent labour regulations, and a costly climate policy agenda risk hindering British Columbia’s competitiveness.”

CFIB urges the BC government to address the rising cost of doing business by adopting a long-term fiscal plan that focuses on putting the province’s finances back on track and creating a more competitive business environment.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:

Jairo Yunis
Economist for Western Canada, CFIB
(403) 399-5321

About CFIB

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 members, including 9,000 in BC, across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.