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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Claremont Secondary’s year-long drama class will perform TRAP, a thrilling play by Stephen Gregg, virtually from April 14-17 at 7 p.m. (Image courtesy Colin Plant)
Claremont’s drama students to ‘TRAP’ audience’s attention with thrilling virtual performances

Grade 9-12 drama class will perform via livestream from April 14-17

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Most Read