News / Vancouver

Liberals, business skewer NDP’s ‘Alberta jobs plan’

Iain Black sat at the head table of the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Aboriginal Opportunity Forum Thursday and glossed over the NDP’s just-announced 2013 platform fiscal plan with representatives of the new energy sector.

The reaction was less than stellar.

“‘Well that’s just fine, I’ll just move to Calgary’ is what one of them told me as casually as you and I would talk about last night’s Canucks score,” VBOT president Black – a former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister – told Metro.

The fear of scaring away investors is set to become a major election issue as British Columbians go to the polls May 14.

The icy reception stems from the NDP’s plan to increase Corporate Income Tax by 1 per cent, permanently raise income taxes to 19 per cent on individuals making more than $150,000 a year (it’s currently at 14.7 per cent, but scheduled to temporarily rise to 16.8), expand the Carbon Tax base and re-introduce a Corporation Capital Tax on financial institutions.

“It’s a grave mistake to underestimate the impact of increased income tax for the employers who sign the paycheques,” said Black. “A dollar spent here will be worth less. It sends a message to investors that we’re pulling away the welcome mat.”

NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston said the measures ensure the party, if elected, can increase spending without inflating the provincial deficit beyond $790 million in 2013/14.

That’s the “real Liberal deficit” hiding within the balanced 2013 provincial budget after “unrealistic” growth projections and “not credible” asset sales are taken out of the equation, Ralston argues.

“What we are making is some difficult decisions and we’re laying out how we will pay for it,” said Ralston at the fiscal plan’s unveiling in Vancouver. “We are announcing tax increases now, before we talk about spending, instead of after the election.”

The NDP is promising to balance their budget within four years, but Ralston said, “it will take time to pay that down” without cutting public services.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, though pleased the small business tax rate remains unchanged, also voiced their concerns with the plan.

“We wanted to see no deficit and a plan to reduce B.C.’s debt,” said CFIB director of provincial affairs Mike Klassen. “[Our members] are business people, they know that if you can’t pay off your bills you’re not going to get very far.”

The plan, which lays the foundation for the NDP’s full platform reveal April 17, was met with disdain by the Liberals.

“It’s an Alberta jobs plan,” Finance Minister Michael de Jong heckled. “With these tax increases, we’ll go back to the days investment fled and avoided B.C. Head offices will move away and jobs will go with it.”

de Jong said the Liberals plan to table the exact same budget they did earlier this year if re-elected.