Sask. business leaders sound off to Senate committee over proposed tax changes

Posted on November 9, 2017 in

Sask. business leaders sound off to Senate committee over proposed tax changes


People want predictability but business owners across the country say that’s not what they’re getting from the federal government.

On Wednesday, a Senate committee continued its public hearing circuit in Saskatoon on newly proposed tax changes after hearing from 20 to 25 concerned parties in Vancouver and Calgary.

“The economy is the heartbeat of our community, if there is an issue with the pattern of our heartbeat – we pay attention,” Darla Lindbjerg, president & CEO of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said.

According to Sen. Raynell Andreycuck, who is part of the committee on national finance, they’ve heard the same message from various businesses – owners feel under attack.

“What it’s done is put sort of a freeze on any future thinking and development on our country that’s really not necessary.”

Lindbjerg, who represents 1,400 businesses in Saskatoon, described the tax reforms as “disturbing and unnerving.”

“We have businesses that are looking at pulling back their investment, we have businesses who were looking to expand their operations that are now saying I’m not going that direction,” Lindbjerg added.

“We have businesses that were looking to acquire other businesses that are saying we’re not going to do it yet.”

In an economy built on the backs of many small businesses there’s more than just a few who have a beef with Prime Minster Justin Trudeau and federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau over the entire tax reform process.

“They are very complex and they impact almost every single private business in Canada, it’s not just the companies that are larger business, it’s not just people that are one percenters – it impacts every single private Canadian in some way,” Kim Drever, regional tax leader with MNP, said.

The massive tax changes were first revealed in the summer during the heart of vacations and harvest.

“A bill typically takes two years of consultation followed by two years of debate in the House and this one had a 75-day consultation period and the intention was to pass the bill in January,” Keith Moen, with the North Saskatoon Business Association, said.

“So five months later after the July 18 announcement, which we feel is disingenuous in our view and quite frankly ridiculous for something of this nature.”

Steve McLellan, of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, described the changes as playing a game and having the rules unfairly changed halfway through.

Although concessions and slight revisions have been made to some of the reforms following outrage and outcry across the country, for McLellan the entire course of action has triggered both doubt and distrust.

“The bottom line is they came with such force on these recommendations in a process we feel was both disrespectful and untimely so now our members are saying what’s next.”

The committee will now move onto Winnipeg and is set to table its final report with recommendations to the Senate on Dec. 15.

“What we’re trying to do is assist the government in making the right choice,” Andreycuck said.

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