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Most British Columbians oppose idea of paying COVID-19 surcharge to help businesses

Last Updated Jun 3, 2020 at 7:31 am PDT

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Poll finds British Columbians are against the idea of paying a COVID-19 surcharge

Insights West finds 62 per cent of British Columbians are opposed to paying a COVID-19 surcharge

Idea is to charge a specific fee to help businesses cover the extra costs of operating in a post-pandemic world

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Prices may be higher as the economy opens up – we expect that – but it seems most British Columbians are against the idea of paying a COVID-19 surcharge on products and services.

An Insights West poll finds little love for a specific fee to help businesses cover the extra costs of operating in a post-pandemic world.

“We found there is an overall opposition to businesses charging a COVID-19 surcharge – 62 per cent say they are opposed, including 37 per cent who say they are strongly opposed – but it really depends on which sector,” says Insights West President Steve Mossop.

“There is slim majority – 51 per cent — that supports a COVID-19 surcharge for hair salons and barbers and then 47 per cent for restaurants and other small chain retailers,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“If you look at the large chain retailers, only 20 percent support a surcharge and 75 per cent are opposed, so there is a big difference depending on what type of establishment you are going into.”

When it comes to those smaller, more local sectors, Mossop says people seem to realize they need to make significant adaptations to remain open and keep customers and staff safe.

“If you think of a hair salon, they need to go to great lengths to social distance their chairs and meet cleaning protocols in between [clients]. You hear of some salons putting up plexiglass between stations and that all comes with significant costs. In this instance, people are more prepared to pay,” he explains.

“Restaurants are in the same boat. If they are spacing out every table, they know that they are going to face increased costs just to have lower occupancy. There is support but it’s maybe a little bit reluctant.”

The poll finds younger British Columbians, those under the age of 35, are more supportive of the concept of a COVID-19 surcharge, possibly because they tend to be employed in these sectors and have a higher level of empathy.

Mossop feels that despite the general opposition to surcharges, there is an overall expectation that we will see higher prices in the months ahead.

“We found that the vast majority of us – 75 per cent – believe that the Canadian and local economies can expect higher inflation,” he says.

“Across the board in British Columbia — no matter which age, gender or regional segments – we all accept the fact we’re probably going to have to pay higher prices for many products and services. We have 54 per cent who agree that we will just have to accept that and maybe not label it as a surcharge because we all know, in this day and age, that it’s more expensive to run a business and meet all the criteria that are in place.”

Insights West also finds the “support local” trend continues as the economy reopens, calling it a “hyper-localization” of purchase intentions and customer loyalty.

The poll suggests a strong level of agreement about actively trying to buy from businesses that form part of the local neighbourhood (79%), BC businesses (81%) and Canadian businesses (82%).

There is also a strong desire (63%) to avoid businesses which have reportedly been unfair to their employees as part of the response to the pandemic.

-With files from Ria Renouf