Stone, James clash in legislature over payroll tax, ICBC

By James Peters
March 7, 2018 - 3:40pm

VICTORIA — Kamloops-South Thompson BC Liberal MLA Todd Stone sparred with Finance Minister Carole James in the BC legislature today over the NDP employer health tax plan.

Stone used organic food business Nature's Fare as an example of a business that will be hurt by the switchover from paying MSP premiums to handing over the new payroll tax.

The MLA said Nature's Fare will have to pay $2 million annually starting in 2020, and it may make the business unviable.

James hit back by going after Stone's record as transportation minister under the former BC Liberal government.

"A $1.3 billion loss at ICBC. That's the issue that we have to deal with," said James to cheers from fellow government MLAs.

"Honourable Speaker, I'm sure the member (Stone) would like me to forget to raise that every time he stands up, but the taxpayers aren't going to forget that because it has an impact on the budget this year and next year and the year after because of the mess they left."

Stone was not impressed by James' response.

"What an absolutely dismissive response to a legitimate concern that a small business that employs 450 British Columbians is concerned about an additional $2 million hit to its bottom line because of this government's tax," said Stone.

"This hard-working small business deserves respect and it deserves an actual answer from this minister."

James responded by saying 85 per cent of small businesses will not pay the employer health tax, and five per cent will pay the full amount, a proportion the NDP government believes is fair.

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