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DARLENE COMPTON: A voice for small business

Owners facing real economic consequences from federal tax increases warrant courtesy of being heard

Published on September 13, 2017

Darlene Compton, Opposition finance critic, wants a legislative standing committee to hear from P.E.I. business owners and groups about proposed federal tax changes and how they affect small business.

© (Guardian file photo)

I want to thank Alan Holman for his column “Removing loopholes,’ Sept. 9.

. In it he demonstrates precisely why I maintain that there needs to be a legislative hearing into the federal government’s changes to how small businesses are taxed and the impacts that would have on the Island economy.
The engine of small business helps drive growth in most sectors of our Island economy. According to the province’s own Annual Statistical Review there were 6,118 small businesses employing 50 or fewer people in 2016 on Prince Edward Island. Of those small businesses, almost 4,700 employ fewer than 10 people. Clearly the sustained health of our small businesses is vital to the future growth of our provincial economy.
For Mr. Holman to suggest that tax measures having broad impact on thousands of Island businesses isn’t a matter deserving scrutiny by MLA’s is strange to say the least, especially when our four Island MP’s and our provincial government have been mute on the subject of these tax increases. I wholeheartedly disagree.
In 2012 a legislative committee held a series of seven hearings across Prince Edward Island on the possible impact of changes to the Employment Insurance system. The provincial government even made presentations to that committee about local economic impacts of federal government changes. I feel that hearing from Island small business owners facing real economic consequences from these tax increases warrant the same courtesy of being listened to.
In his column Mr. Holman echoed the unhelpful class warfare rhetoric of the federal government attempting to demonize anyone with legitimate concerns about its plans. That’s not a constructive approach and shows why affected entrepreneurs, job creators and health professionals need an opportunity to share their very real concerns.
The story of Islanders spending years waiting on Patient Registries to access a family doctor is an all too familiar one to thousands of Islanders. The medical community has also expressed worry that these tax increases will have negative impacts on both the recruitment of new, young doctors and the retention of existing doctors. The fact that these tax changes could also affect on our health care system warrants further analysis.
These federal tax increases will impact more than just doctors, despite what Mr. Holman and the federal government might have you believe. Entrepreneurs in our primary industries of fishing, farming and tourism will also be affected. The job creators in our retail and construction sectors as well as new small business startups in IT and other fields will be affected too. The MacLauchlan government is quick to praise success created by small business owners in these sectors so I hope they show the same level of attention to a policy measure that puts that continued success at risk.
We need a robust small business sector to drive economic growth and job creation on Prince Edward Island, which helps fund important public services like health care and education. Policy measures that put that goal at risk should be a concern for all elected officials, provincially and federally. That is why I hope that the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development responds favourably to my request for hearings into the federal government’s plan to change how small businesses are taxed.

- Belfast-Murray River MLA Darlene Compton is the finance critic for the Official Opposition