Bruce Ralston, New Democrat leader MLA for Surrey Whalley and spokesperson for Multiculturalism and trade. Photo: Submitted
Bruce Ralston,
New Democrat leader MLA for Surrey Whalley and spokesperson for Multiculturalism and trade.
Photo: Submitted

Surrey: Small businesses in British Columbia have a new task force that will seek ideas on how to maintain a healthy small business environment, create good jobs and grow a strong, sustainable economy for all British Columbians.

The members of B.C.’s Small Business Task Force were announced by Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, at Just Cakes Bakeshop, a small business in Surrey.

“The new Small Business Task Force will listen to entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the province, so we can continue to improve B.C.’s small business climate,” said Ralston. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. The Small Business Task Force will make recommendations to build on this sector’s strong growth, and enhance job creation for people in every corner of B.C.”

Michael Hwang, founder and principal lawyer at Amicus Lawyers, has been appointed to chair the new three-member Small Business Task Force. The other members are Cybele Negris, vice-chair of B.C.’s Small Business Roundtable and CEO and co-founder of Webnames.ca, and Shahraz Kassam, owner and CEO of Shamin Diamonds.

The task force will host seven consultations throughout the province in June 2018, to hear from B.C.’s small business community, including chambers of commerce, entrepreneurs and First Nations. People will also have a chance to participate online through a public engagement website.

“We want to hear from small businesses in every community in the province,” said Hwang. “The task force will examine the opportunities and challenges facing small business owners to make recommendations that build on the strengths of the sector, and help create good jobs throughout the province.”

Following the public consultations, the task force will submit its final report to the minister, including its recommendations in fall 2018 on how the Province can further support small business in B.C.

“As a small business owner, I know how important it is to have a healthy business environment, so that our businesses can thrive,” said Raveena Oberoi, owner of Just Cakes Bakeshop. “I will be adding my voice to the task force’s public consultations, and I encourage other small business owners to do the same.”

The Small Business Task Force is a special initiative of B.C.’s Small Business Roundtable, and will be supported by its membership. Task force recommendations will help inform the roundtable’s priorities and strategies to strengthen the sector. Hwang and Kassam have also been appointed as members of the Small Business Roundtable.

Quick Facts:

  • The Small Business Task Force will hold consultations in the following cities:
    • June 6 – Surrey
  • June 8 – Nanaimo
  • June 13 – Terrace
  • June 14 – Prince George
  • June 18 – Richmond
  • June 26 – Cranbrook
  • June 28 – Kelowna
  • The Province cut the small business corporate income tax rate by 20%, from 2.5% to 2%. The new tax rate is retroactive to April 1, 2017. It is now the second lowest in Canada, tied with Alberta and Saskatchewan.
  • The Province cut the provincial sales tax (PST) on non-residential electricity from 7% to 3.5%, as of Jan. 1, 2018. PST charges on non-residential electricity will be eliminated by April 1, 2019.
  • Eliminating the PST on electricity will translate into savings of more than $150 million annually for B.C. businesses.
  • Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Province cut Medical Services Plan premiums by half, and will completely eliminate them on Jan. 1, 2020.
  • Small businesses make up 98% of all businesses in B.C.
  • More than one million British Columbians were employed by a small business in 2016 – more than half of all private-sector employment.
  • Small business employment is growing faster than at any time in the past decade with 3.1% growth in 2016.