British Columbia

Clark promises small business tax breaks for jobs

Premier Christy Clark is adding small business tax incentives to her plan to boost jobs in B.C., she announced Wednesday at a breakfast with the Surrey Board of Trade.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks at a press conference Tuesday in Kamloops, B.C. (Keith Anderson/Canadian Press/Kamloops Daily News)

Premier Christy Clark is adding small business tax incentives to her plan to boost jobs in B.C., she announced Wednesday at a breakfast with the Surrey Board of Trade.

Clark says she is adding $3 million to the government's $30 million small business venture capital tax credit to attract investors to support new businesses.

She's also extending the $31-million apprenticeship tax credit program for another three years until 2014 to give employers more opportunities to hire and train skilled workers.

Clark, who has been on the road this week highlighting parts of her plan, will deliver the full scope of her jobs initiative Thursday in Vancouver at a Board of Trade luncheon.

So far, Clark has said she plans to contribute $15 million to the expansion of the Port of Prince Rupert, support liquefied natural gas exports from Kitimat and double the numbers of international students in B.C. in the next four years.

She told the crowd on Wednesday her jobs plan is the prime focus of everybody in her government: "Every single ministry and every single minister knows that they have a personal role to play in making the plan come to fruition."

Economists and business leaders say what they've heard so far this week is short on targets and dollars, but offers a dose of confidence to businesses demoralized by the failure of the harmonized sales tax referendum and faltering economies in the U.S. and Europe.

"The focus here is right," said John Winter, B.C. Chamber of Commerce president. "It's on industries that are creating products for export. It's good economic strategy that allows new money to come into our economy, whether it's in wood products, mining products or human products like tourism and education."

Helmut Pastrick, chief economist at Central 1 Credit Union, said Clark's financial support for her jobs plan is modest, but she's hitting the right targets, especially with her focus on markets in China, India, Asia and Brazil.

Opposition New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix said he's looking for more solid proposals from Clark's jobs plan Thursday, because all he's heard so far is repeats of announcements made earlier by former premier Gordon Campbell and admissions that the Liberals are not helping enough B.C. students get B.C. jobs.

"If this is her whole plan, then it is, as they say, like a Seinfeld episode about nothing," he said. "I'm hopeful that the premier will address the issues I've raised, which are the real challenges in the training system."