Calgary

Calgary businesses hurt by multiple financial burdens, chamber of commerce says

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce says its research suggests the combined effect of new financial burdens from the three levels of government are hurting small- and medium-sized businesses in the city.

Chamber calling on province to suspend plan to hike minimum wage to $15/hr

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce says the combined effect of tax measures from three levels of government is hard on smaller businesses in the city. (David Bell/CBC)

The Calgary Chamber of Commerce says its research suggests the combined effect of new financial burdens from the three levels of government are hurting small- and medium-sized businesses in the city.

The chamber conducted surveys and followup consultations with 26 Calgary businesses to try to gauge the effect of policies enacted by the city, province and federal government.

The chamber's director of policy, Zoe Addington, says the surveys showed that Calgary businesses are feeling the layered effect of increases to the minimum wage, city property taxes and the carbon levy.

"I think what we wanted to highlight here is that, when all levels of government are doing it, these costs are piling up," she said.

"And it's at a time when businesses, especially in Calgary, feel they are already being impacted by the economy, by the lack of access to capital, by a lack of customers and clients."

The chamber is calling on the province to postpone its plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour next year, and instead leave it at $13.60 until there's a better understanding of how the higher wage affects the economy.

Addington says some businesses they surveyed indicated that the higher minimum wage could mean they would hire fewer young people.

Other approaches suggested

"The Alberta government should consider targeted approaches to poverty alleviation including an expansion of the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit to cover the full demographic of low-income, working Albertans," the report said.

The chamber is also recommending that the City of Calgary extend its non-residential property tax relief through 2018 and work to find a longer-term solution to recent large swings in property assessments.

It wants the city to contain annual spending increases within what it calls a "smart spending bandwidth" — the combined rates of consumer inflation plus population growth.

The chamber is also calling on the Alberta government to use a portion of the carbon levy to reduce corporate and personal income taxes.

Addington says it's hoped the survey will remind all levels of government of the need to do layered-cost assessments when bringing in new policies that affect entrepreneurs.

"I think sometimes they do forget that there is only one taxpayer," she said. 

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