Inflation, affordability top election concerns: survey

Business, general electorate share concerns about afforability, rising costs and climate change

GVBOT president Bridgitte Anderson says there is 'heightened anxiety" among Metro Vancouver businesses over rising costs, increased debt and taxes. | Submitted

Business owners and ordinary citizens don’t always agree on what top concerns and priorities for political parties should be during an election, but a Mustel survey released today finds businesses and ordinary citizens lining up on a few key priorities.

Inflation, debt and affordability – including affordability of housing – are among the top concerns shared by both business and ordinary voters in the Metro Vancouver region.

Climate change also ranks higher as an election issue in Metro Vancouver than in the rest of Canada, both for ordinary citizens and business.

In preparation for a candidates’ debate to take place later today, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) commissioned the Mustel Group to poll Metro Vancouver residents on their top concerns and election priorities.

“We see growing concern about affordability in a region already acknowledged as one the most expensive cities in the world relative to our income levels,” said Evi Mustel, president of the Mustel Group.

“With the pandemic affecting supply chains and the cost of doing business, residents and businesses are increasingly concerned, not just about housing affordability, but also increased cost of goods and escalating taxes.”

“There is a heightened level of anxiety in the business community over the continued impacts of the pandemic, the rising cost of goods, and the long-term implications of spending, debt, and the potential for increased taxes and a worsening business environment,” GVBOT president Bridgitte Anderson said of the survey’s findings.

“Looking to the future, finding solutions to core regional issues, including fighting climate change, building more housing, and additional infrastructure investment, especially public transit is critical. Businesses are also calling for a plan to find workers, focused on developing skills in our local market and offsetting what we don’t have by welcoming skilled immigrants.”

Among the general electorate in Vancouver, the environment and climate change was a top priority, with 49% saying it was the top election issue, followed by affordability and the cost of living.

Even among business respondents, the environment and climate change came in third on the list of election priorities, which is higher than elsewhere in Canada. According to the most recent Angus Reid polling, only 18% of Canadians rank climate change a top election issue.

The survey found the number one concern of business respondents was the economy and economic recovery (44%), followed by the regulatory environment at 34% -- i.e. taxes and regulations.

The actual physical environment – including climate change – came in at third among businesses – with 30% ranking it a top priority. Fiscal responsibility came in fourth (29%), government ethics, honesty and leadership fifth (26%) and taxes in general sixth (22%).

Inflation and debt is one concern shared by businesses and ordinary citizens alike. The Mustel survey found 90% of citizens and 94% of businesses have “significant concern” about the rising cost of goods.

“Nearly half of businesses (46%) and 38% of the public are concerned about the additional debt they took on in response to the pandemic,” the survey finds.

The survey also found widespread support for vaccine passport mandates, with 86% of businesses and 82% of the general public in support. The survey found the general public to be a bit more optimistic than business about economic recovery.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv