Reducing taxes and merchant fees are two ways a federal NDP government would help small businesses.
On Friday, Aug. 7, North Okanagan Shuswap NDP candidate Jacqui Gingras hosted a roundtable discussion with a focus on small business at the DAC library. Leading the discussion was Burnaby-New Westminster MP Peter Julian who, up until recently, served as Official House Opposition Leader.
While introducing Julian, Gingras spoke briefly on how she sees a shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy benefitting both the economy and the environment.
“A lot of us are aware of this sector… but we haven’t really crossed over into the kind of depth that we can,” said Gingras. “And a lot of the jobs people are doing up north now are fully transferable to working in renewable energy. And not only does it help people create a livelihood locally, it has a real, immediate impact on the environment.”
Taking the floor, Julian launched into how an NDP government would benefit small business. First, he said it would reduce the small business tax rate from 11 to nine percent. He noted while corporate tax rates have come down, that money, about half a trillion dollars, is, for the most part, sitting in bank accounts, “not generating the types of jobs we’d like to see.”
“We are actually, under Mr. Harper, in the worst situation for job creation since the Second World War,” said Julian. “So we need to make sure that any targeted tax cuts actually create jobs, and we’ve seen a direct relationship between lowering the… small business tax rate and the jobs that are created.”
Julian said and NDP government would also move to legislate and reduce the merchant fees credit card companies charge small businesses by about 20 per cent of what’s being paid now.
Noting how job turnover can be a cost to small businesses, Julian segued into the Conservative government’s “reliance” on temporary foreign workers, bringing in hundreds of thousands, as opposed to bolstering immigration that “actually leads to economic development.” While there are some cases where temporary foreign workers make sense, such as agriculture, Julian said the NDP would emphasize family reunification, and putting more emphasis on skills development, apprenticeships and training.
Returning to Gingras’ comments on renewable energy, Julian said there’s a lot investment going on in the development of clean-energy sources – about three-trillion to be invested over the next three years.
“And so, what we would be looking at nationally, is putting in place a clean energy strategy that allows us to build clean-energy jobs and take advantage of that world-wide boom,” said Julian. “It starts the day we are elected with taking the billion dollars that’s currently used in subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and transferring that over to clean energy. And that will go into two areas particularly: research and development, and also training and apprenticeship.”
Asked where the NDP stands on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement the federal government has been pursuing, Julian said it is concerned about the impact it would have on supply management, that the agreement would “basically sell out the supply managed sector: dairy, poultry, eggs.” He added the government appeared to be more interested in the number of trade deals they could sign than what their actual impacts might be on Canadians.
“They do not even do an impact assessment study of how the proposed agreement would impact Canadian industrial sectors,” said the former NDP trade critic. “They do very little to research what the results will be… they believe, if they’ve signed an agreement, it’s an achievement.
“We did research into the agreements they signed in the past and, in a lot of cases, the agreements they’ve signed have actually led to a decrease of exports from Canada to the country with whom we’ve signed that agreement.”