It's important, as political leaders, that we make recommendations to deal with important issues, and this is why Conservatives put forward a motion in the House of Commons calling for the government to end all scheduled tax increases.
This motion, unfortunately, did not pass.
The reason I supported the motion is clear—it was precisely what many of you here in Kelowna-Lake Country have been telling me, life is becoming more unaffordable and families just can't absorb any more cost-of-living increases.
I've sent out many surveys this year to get feedback on how people are coping with the rising cost of living. I'm not surprised that, with 40-year high inflation, thousands of you responded. While some households have been able to weather rising prices, most wrote of the heartbreaking sacrifices they were forced to make to feed their children, pay their heating bills or cancel trips to see extended family.
I was particularly taken aback by the hopelessness of many young people who responded or reached out to me over the summer. Young workers tell me of their desperation when they see the value of their paycheques decline with no hope of ever owning a home. Seniors tell me how being on a fixed income (they are) seeing their savings depleted just to keep up with basic necessities. Entrepreneurs tell me they struggle to stay afloat with increasing costs and their rising debt.
Tax relief would provide relief to everyone here in Kelowna-Lake Country, as well as throw a lifeline to our local small businesses when they most need it.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, nationwide, 54% of businesses still report below-normal revenues and about 62% of small businesses still carry debt from the pandemic. This is in addition to the effects of inflation, chronic labour shortages and lingering supply chain issues.
Costs like these are already proving unmanageable for local entrepreneurs. To subject them to new taxes, I believe, is nothing short of cold-hearted.
What are the main taxes going up soon? They are payroll tax, the excise tax, and the carbon tax.
First, payroll tax increases will increase employers' costs while hitting workers' paycheques. Some argue that these costs are not taxes, but any government-mandated charge that carries penalties for not paying represents a tax on the bottom line of small businesses.
Even the prime minister has called these types of premium increases payroll taxes, and the government's website refers to them as such.
Second, the upcoming excise tax increases at our local wineries, cideries, distilleries and breweries will affect these producers and trickle down to restaurants, retailers and, ultimately, consumers. The excise tax is also an escalator tax, a fancy bureaucratic word for "automatic," meaning it increases without coming to Parliament. Its rate is also tied to inflation, meaning it will be a higher increase than ever.
Restaurants Canada said the government's introduction of the automatic escalator in 2017 "made an already bad situation worse" for restaurants, with price increases stemming from the commercial costs of ordering wine, beer, and spirits (and this was before current inflation numbers).
Finally, is the carbon tax. The government said it would cap it at $50 a tonne, but is now planning to force British Columbia to bring it tax up to $150 a tonne. This is more than triple what was initially promised and at a rate that small businesses still disproportionately pay without the appropriate rebates to offset it.
These increases will only make the cost of fuel, food, and all goods shipped anywhere more expensive for everyone.
These new tax hikes, if not reversed, will further add to inflation, reduce paychecks, hit the bottom lines of small businesses, and increase the cost of goods.
That is why Conservatives are calling to stop all tax increases.