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B.C. Liberals want sales taxes halted, spending boosted to help COVID-19 recovery

Last Updated Jul 15, 2020 at 12:29 am PDT

FILE: B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson answers questions from the media following the speech from the throne in the legislative assembly in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, February 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Summary

Waiting until the fall to unveil a specific economic plan to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is too late: Liberals

The B.C. opposition party is now pressing for a temporary halt on sales taxes, as well as a short-term spending boost

Figures releases Tuesday show the province is facing a potential budget deficit of $12.5 billion

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Waiting until the fall to unveil a specific economic plan to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic is too late, according to B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.

The provincial opposition party is now pressing for a temporary halt on sales taxes, as well as a short-term spending boost.

“This would put everything on sale, it would take the burden off small businesses. What they’ve done, the NDP, is just defer those taxes so there’s a huge tax bill for businesses to pay in the fall, when they can least be able to afford it,” Wilkinson said.

Figures released Tuesday show the province is facing a potential budget deficit of $12.5 billion.

Earlier this year, Finance Minister Carole James had outlined a budget with a $227 million surplus.

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“The projected numbers are staggering, but they’re not without hope,” James said. “Things are getting better each and every day when we follow the provincial health officer’s advice. And today’s fiscal update, though certainly far from Budget 2020 and the surplus that we tabled before the pandemic, provides us an opportunity to build a stronger B.C. that works for everyone in our province.”

British Columbians have yet to see the plan for the $1.5 billion the province has set aside for COVID-19 recovery, with government consultation ending on that next week. It will then take a few more weeks to compile the data and formalize a plan, which is expected to be laid out in full this September.

Wilkinson, however, said unveiling a cohesive recovery plan in September is too late.

“When we’ve been successful combatting COVID-19, we should be more advanced in our recovery plan. We shouldn’t be waiting for the situation to resolve itself elsewhere before we get going on rebuilding British Columbia,” he added.

The hospitality, retail, recreation, and trade sectors have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Housing has also taken a hit over the past four months. While prices are relatively flat, sales are down about 40 per cent.