This week the Observer asked the Shuswap’s candidates: If elected, how will you assist the local economy in rebounding from the pandemic?
BC Liberal Party
I am encouraged by the overwhelming support for our free-enterprise party and the public desire to elect a government that has a clearly articulated plan to turbo-charge the economy through a suite of thoughtful and effective policy initiatives including:
• Getting more people back to work and attracting new investment eliminating the PST for a year, and then set it at 3 per cent as the economy grows;
• Eliminate the Small Business Income Tax entirely;
• Modernize regulation for investment in B.C. to ensure sustainable and efficient land-use decisions, by ensuring more timely approvals from the Environmental Assessment Office, while ensuring a high level of environmental protection;
• Undertake a commercial trucking review, include truck parking capacity and brokerage, to keep the industry operating safely and efficiently, and support the essential movement of goods.
• Deliver emergency financing, through a loan guarantee program for B.C.’s more than 19,000 tourism and hospitality businesses;
• Expand measures to increase access to capital and investment for new start-ups;
• Accelerate B.C.’s role as a clean hydro-power exporter, to aid global greenhouse gas reductions;
• Implement an aggressive agenda to rebuild and expand B.C.’s tourism sector;
• Work with the tourism industry and municipal partners to support the development and growth of regional tourism hub.
The pandemic has created new and unique challenges in B.C. and around the world. The most significant issue, aside from the health of our citizens, is the serious impacts felt by so many of our small businesses.
Here in the Shuswap, our economy relies heavily on small business. Although the proprietors and employees of these businesses have done creative and innovative things to quickly adapt to this new challenge, many will need help to adjust and prosper.
On Sept. 17, the NDP government announced a $1.5 billion recovery plan that includes $300 million in support for small business. Small businesses will be able to apply for much needed grants and tax relief for hiring, or rehiring, employees. They will also receive a PST rebate on any machinery purchased for their businesses.
The plan also includes money for infrastructure spending, funds for retraining, and more money for municipalities. All new approved spending is in addition to the 2020 budget.
Investing in people is investing in the economy. Assisting British Columbians to receive the training, education and supports they need to get back to work is what will keep the economy strong.
BC Green Party
For starters, I would demand more targeted reporting of virus cases within the our region than what we are currently receiving. An outbreak in Kelowna (for instance) could cause restrictive measures to be implemented in Salmon Arm due to Interior Health’s blanket reporting for their entire region. Why not lock down Kelowna in isolation in such circumstances? My parent’s home county in Ireland is in lock down in isolation from its neighboring counties, and it’s the size of the Shuswap provincial riding!
Limiting the degree to which businesses are impacted by COVID-19 restrictions would be my absolute priority. Leveraging the incredible natural assets we have as a draw for returning tourists would be a longer-term goal. For instance – Revelstoke has become a thriving biking destination, bringing a financial boon in the summertime. The South Canoe Trails, as well as the Rail Trail, are two major draws for bicycle-lovers and could be networked with safe bike lanes to bring commerce to our downtown cores.
Mostly, I believe the entrepreneurial skills of local business owners are such that the Shuswap will recover economically when unfettered by restrictions.