Editorial: Bigger burdens for small business in B.C.

The list of essentials in B.C.’s small-business survival kit is growing daily. But it has become increasingly evident that the kit might not contain enough resource and resolve needed to ensure small-business survival in this province.

The anti-enterprise forces are becoming too numerous.

Increases in taxes, red tape and crime along with competition on a playing field tilted in favour of Amazon, Walmart and other global retail behemoths are atop the list. Add a global pandemic and an environmental climate crisis into the mix and you will have killed off all but the most resilient small-business entrepreneurs. And even their chances of drawing enough from their survival kits to keep their heads above rising tides of red ink are becoming slimmer.

Lifelines are needed if a mass extinction of main street grassroots enterprise is to be avoided.

Consider the human resources deficit.

According to a recently released white paper from D2L, a global education technology company, only 21 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses say they are confident that they will have the skills and talent needed to build their organizations over the next three years.

Government has helped many Canadian employers and employees survive the pandemic crisis with taxpayer-funded support. But it is now over-helping by failing to turn off the taps of government assistance that is bankrolling more employment disincentives than workplace survival initiatives.

Those disincentives affect enterprise at both ends of the demographic scale.

For example, governments continue to discourage retirees from either remaining in the workforce or returning to it by clawing back income earned beyond pension payments. So, invaluable workplace experience is removed from the overall talent pool.

Government’s contribution to the small-business survival kit should be a finely weighted balance of regulation and incentive to promote growth and innovation. But the current imbalance in those areas promotes neither.