By Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart
Small Business Week took place last week; a time where we celebrate the contributions of small businesses across British Columbia. In my riding of the Fraser-Nicola, small businesses are the backbone of the community. Unfortunately, many of them are in dire need of support due to damage sustained by this year’s wildfires.
The true costs of damage caused by wildfires have yet to be fully tallied. Even the immediate losses to property are still being assessed. My focus at the Legislature over the next four weeks will be on making sure the government is preparing a long-term recovery program for every region that has been affected.
This is especially important as the government moves to prepare its first “full” budget, expected next February. The last thing rural B.C. businesses need is to be in competition with a government that is more concerned with fulfilling campaign promises and re-election, rather than looking out for those in need.
Small business owners are facing bleak prospects without any government relief in sight. The finance minister says she is sympathetic, but that doesn’t pay for the kind of damage that people working in the forest, agriculture, and tourism industries face.
My colleague, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett, has suggested that temporary relief from property taxes would provide small business with immediate assistance. The government is sitting on top of a $2.7 billion surplus, and it wouldn’t cost much to administer such a program. Unfortunately, this suggestion has fallen on deaf ears in Victoria.
I will be concentrating my efforts on convincing this government that an immediate action plan is necessary to restore hope to our region. Please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (250) 453-9726 if you have any suggestions or comments.