B.C.’s 15% tax on foreign buyers doesn’t worry recruiters

Sports teams, law firms and tech companies don’t consider tax an obstacle

Vancouver Canucks' president of hockey operations Trevor Linden says free agent players are more concerned with fitting in than with financial considerations of a move | Dean Bertoncelj/Shutterstock

Executives at local sports teams do not expect to find it more difficult to recruit players because of B.C.’s new 15% property transfer tax levied on Metro Vancouver home sales to foreign residents.

Nor do counterparts at law firms or technology companies.

“I don’t believe that free agents make their sole decision [on where to play] on the financial aspect of things,” Trevor Linden, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, told Business in Vancouver. 

“The most important thing is the fit and opportunity with the team. The player may have a wife who is from out east or they may want to play in the Sun Belt. Those are factors that play into the decision. There’s the chance to win, ice time, the coach and where they fit in the lineup. Those are most important.”

The Vancouver Whitecaps pay less than the Canucks but the soccer team’s stars still make several hundred thousand dollars annually – certainly enough to buy a house in Vancouver.

Most of its players rent, however, according to Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi.

“If they are looking to purchase [a home], and I have to say that not many of them are, that would be part of the [salary] negotiation,” Lenarduzzi said.

Buying property is unlikely for Whitecaps players partly because the team has undergone so much rotation since its first Major League Soccer game, in 2011.

The only current players who were on that inaugural team are Canadian Russell Teibert and American Jordan Harvey.

Other sectors where employers seek top talent from abroad and can afford to pay hefty salaries include law firms and niche technology or biotech ventures.

“In the law firm space, I don’t think the new tax will have a significant impact because there are already some fairly significant barriers to foreign qualified lawyers coming into Canada to practice,” said The Counsel Network managing partner Warren Smith. 

“The requalification process to practice in B.C., or Canada for that matter, is fairly onerous.”

If a lawyer does not have a law degree from a Canadian law school, then he or she must go through a process with the National Committee on Accreditation.

“The process could take as long as two years,” Smith said.

When it comes to hiring executives from abroad to oversee specialized operations such as those at a niche biotech firm, the standard procedure is to hire them through the provincial nominee program, according to Ali Tehrani, CEO of fast-growing Zymeworks.

“Especially if you are a key player, we would go through the provincial nominee program,” Tehrani said.

“Once you get in that program and move through it, you can get your permanent resident status. Usually the turnaround is pretty fast. It could be six months.” •