What are politicians’ plans for helping business in B.C.?

A comparison of party promises for key business categories under duress in 2020’s pandemic economy

The pandemic's lingering impact on the province's economy is on B.C. voters' minds this election | Rob Kruyt/BIV files

B.C.’s key industry and business sectors have all been hit hard by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The BC NDP’s decision to call a snap election in the midst of the pandemic turmoil has idled the province’s legislature at a critical juncture in B.C.’s economic recovery and added more political and financial uncertainty to an already challenging economic equation in Western Canada. The question now for entrepreneurs in B.C.’s 2020 election is, what are the three main political parties’ plans for the province and its cornerstone industrial and business sectors if the election results in major power shift?


BC Greens

•Set zero emissions target for 2045

•Support low-carbon economy by “aggressively” supporting research, innovation and development of technologies that reduce carbon emissions

•Fund innovation clusters, as per recommendations from B.C.’s Innovation Commissioner

BC Liberals

•Ensure B.C.’s carbon tax doesn’t result in carbon leakage of energy-intensive trade-exposed industries

BC NDP        

•Bump CleanBC target of 80% emission reduction by 2050 to net zero

•Directly invest in B.C. carbon capture technology

•Accelerate energy efficiency retrofits in residential, commercial buildings

•Provide additional funding for industrial emissions strategies for mines, pulp mills, oil and gas processing plants



BC Greens

•Up to $500 per month for stay-at-home parents with children under three years old

•Increase funding for child-care programs to $897 million in 2024-25 from $674 million in 2020-21

•Explore options for reduced work weeks and/or flexible work hours in consultation with business          

BC Liberals

•Eliminate the provincial sales tax (PST) for one year, followed by a 3% cut in the tax until B.C.’s economy recovers from the pandemic

•$8 billion over three years for infrastructure projects

•Open up B.C.’s automobile insurance to private-market competition and lower premiums for young drivers

•Eliminate the 2% small business income tax

BC NDP        

•Recovery Investment Fund of $3 billion a year to support infrastructure projects and 18,000 new jobs a year

•One-time recovery benefit of $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals under certain income thresholds

•“The deficit is currently $12.8 billion, and the budget won’t be balanced overnight. Our priority right now is helping people and businesses … through this pandemic”

•A commitment to not increase the middle-class tax burden



BC Greens

•$1 billion over four years to address mental health issues within the medical services plan

•Recognize care workers as health-care professionals

•Align care worker wages and benefits with the Health Employers Association of BC       

BC Liberals

•$1 billion over five years to improve long-term care homes and get any senior who wants one his or her own room

•Seniors’ Home Care Tax Credit of up to $7,000 a year for those receiving home care

•Free influenza vaccines for all British Columbians

•$58 million to hire health professionals to work with police to attend emergency calls that are not dealing with violence

BC NDP        

•$1.4 billion to build more long-term care homes, end multi-resident rooms and top up care worker wages

•Launch B.C.’s second medical school to train more health professionals

•$44 million to hire and train 7,000 new health-care workers for long-term care homes and assisted living facilities

•10-year cancer care plan that includes two new regional cancer centres in Nanaimo and Kamloops



BC Greens

•Keep the speculation tax on unrented second homes

•Work with local governments to encourage appropriate zoning and density targets to better connect homes with public transit, to enhance supply and make it easier for people to get around

•Introduce a rental support program that would target low- and moderate-income earners who are paying higher rents than is affordable on their budgets

BC Liberals

•Eliminate the provincial sales tax (PST) for one year to reduce the cost of building new homes

•Eliminate the speculation tax on unrented second homes

•Introduce a new tax on capital gains generated from flipping pre-sale contracts before homes are completed

BC NDP        

•Introduce a $400 rebate to renters in households earning up to $80,000

•Freeze residential rent increases until the end of 2021, with rents then rising with the rate of inflation

•Establish a public strata insurance option if rates do not decline by the end of 2021



BC Greens

•Provide transition support for workers in oil and gas and other non-renewable resource industries to renewable industries

•Ensure mining in B.C. is directly linked to the demand for metals in clean technologies

•Embrace innovation and electrification in mining

•Create a short transition period for fish farms, then decommission sites and cancel provincial tenures

•Enhance regulatory and financial support for closed-containment land-based fish farming

•Provide incentives for value-added manufacturing and non-traditional uses of wood fibre including bio fuels

BC Liberals

•Cut time for permitting mines in half

•Reform “broken stumpage system” with more market-based pricing system

•Pass legislation to protect the working forests

•Ensure “illegal blockades” don’t impede construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

•Expedite LNG export projects through collaborative agreements with Indigenous groups

BC NDP        

•Dedicate portions of the annual allowable cut to higher value producers

•Implement a harvesting moratorium on 353,000 hectares of old-growth forest

•Fast-track industrial electrification with increased power infrastructure

•Review oil and gas royalty credits

•Support innovation in fish hatcheries



BC Greens

•“Fairness” for workers who are in the non-renewable resource sectors to transition to an economy based on renewables and sustainability

•Professional development opportunities for child-care workers to increase their qualifications, while also training more early childhood educators in certified programs

•Establish senior-home caregivers as a recognized health-care profession with guaranteed salary amount while moving the long-term care system out of the private sector

•Invest up to $20 million per year to support mentoring and networking
 at post-secondary institutions to promote entrepreneurship, leadership and business skills development

BC Liberals

•Allocate more funding to create new training spaces for health-care assistants while improving the credential recognition process for internationally educated health-care professionals to work in B.C. to deal with issues in long-term care

•Require mandatory education/training programs for strata council members on issues like risk mitigation to manage the current “unhealthy” situation in B.C.’s high strata insurance rates.

•A sector-by-sector reopening plan to assess the status of industries in all areas, including labour needs and specific timelines, developed by the private sector

BC NDP        

•Invest in “world-leading education at every level” such as restoring tuition-free adult basic English-learning programs

•Open/create “thousands” of new trade and technology seats at post-secondary institutions

•Create more trade training and apprenticeship opportunities for Indigenous peoples, women and youth in key public-sector infrastructure projects through community benefit agreements

•Restore the compulsory trades system to improve safety and give more workers access to apprenticeships



BC Greens

•Will “aggressively and strategically” support research and development of tech that supports carbon reductions

•Will fund innovation clusters as per recommendations from B.C.’s innovation commission

BC Liberals

•Reverse what the party describes as the province’s “decline as a global hub for technology and innovation” to create more jobs

•In 2017, promised to launch an Innovative Ideas Fund to encourage the purchase of new tech products

•In 2017, promised public-sector procurement policies would be adjusted to encourage more use of made-in-B.C. tech

BC NDP        

•Plans to launch a $500 million strategic investment fund to boost West Coast businesses with high-growth potential

•Will make “strategic investments” in carbon-capture technology developed by B.C. companies

•Will spend $90 million to expand the province’s high-speed internet networks

•Committing to add 2,000 more spaces at post-secondary institutions for students in tech-related programs



BC Greens

•Speed up access for small business owners and tourism operators to the small-business grant program, and expand the program if necessary

•Ensure funding for not-for-profit tourism ventures, such as Vancouver’s Science World and Vancouver Island’s Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, perhaps with a new grant program

•Work with the federal government to support a government-backed loan or repayable loan program for hospitality and tourism ventures that will be in addition to grants

BC Liberals

•Eliminate for one year the 10% provincial sales tax (PST) on alcohol in restaurants, as well as the 8% provincial sales tax on hotel rooms to encourage consumer spending on hospitality and tourism, and then institute a 3% PST the following year

•Deliver emergency financing through a loan guarantee program for the province’s more than 19,000 tourism and hospitality businesses

BC NDP        

•Implement a $300 million grant for small and medium-sized businesses that includes an “enhanced amount for tourism operators”

•Allocate $50 million for a new tourism taskforce tasked with boosting the industry

•Work with the federal government to ensure the province receives a greater share of federal money to support tourism



BC Greens

•Diversify B.C.’s economy beyond traditional resources by embracing high-tech and creative sectors to be more adaptive of a “rapidly changing” world economy

•Integrate community planning process for rural/Indigenous communities covering all aspects of economic, environmental and social sustainability to maximize efficiency in overall trade and other activities

•Emphasize the importance of developing a value-added industry around the resources sector to achieve “maximum, long-term benefit” to B.C.

BC Liberals

•Reduce costs associated with taxes and red tape for businesses looking to set up or expand in B.C.

•Create a “global destination for technology and innovation” that attracts new jobs

•Improve pricing competitiveness of B.C. forestry products internationally by implementing a “more efficient, effective and responsive” market-pricing stumpage system; modernize forest management practices to reduce production costs

•Develop long-term procurement strategies for personal protective equipment (PPE)

•Increase B.C.’s tourism marketing budget

BC NDP        

•Support B.C. forestry by continuing to fight for local jobs in disagreements with the United States in the ongoing softwood lumber dispute

•Require new public building to use B.C. wood instead of imports wherever possible

•Focus on agriculture/farming sector growth within the province by promoting a B.C.-first strategy of making it easier for locals to buy local produce (Buy BC) and boost use of local products in patient care (Feed BC)

•Increase access to the U.S. market for B.C. tech companies