The Kelowna Chamber absorbed the federal budget details along with the rest of the country on Tuesday. “We’re waiting to hear from our business members before speaking too broadly,” said CEO Dan Rogers. “One important message is a policy win for us, and for our B.C. based businesses – a focus on streamlining internal trade. Strengthening our internal trade could elevate GDP growth by up to 8% across the country, and fortify Canada’s economic foundation. It shouldn’t be easier to trade with Europe than it is within our own country.”

Budget 2024 announces that the government will launch the first-ever Canadian Survey on interprovincial trade in June 2024, to engage thousands of Canadian businesses on the challenges they face when buying, selling, and investing across provincial and territorial borders. The survey’s insights will help identify top interprovincial barriers so that they can be eliminated.

“There is definitely a focus on expanding the inventory of homes – rental and owned – and new infrastructure funding which is expected to help with emergency response in B.C.,” said Rogers. “As we’re hearing both from the government and the media, it’s a budget aimed primarily at millennials and gen Z. With regard to housing, however, we still need more; much more. Capping development charges is a positive initiative which we support.”

And capital gains taxes rose: apparently affecting the top one percent of individuals taxed; but more importantly, affecting 12% of businesses. The Canadian Chamber generally opposes any measure which will increase the costs for businesses when we’re experiencing challenging economic headwinds. No other personal tax increases materialized.

“Carbon tax remains a hot topic. The budget confirms it will return proceeds to small and medium-sized businesses; however, B.C. isn’t eligible as it has had its own carbon tax since 2008. Other business measures: accelerated depreciation rate; immediate expensing of certain equipment; extension of GST Rebate to student residences.”

The Chamber hosted a virtual analysis with MNP on Wednesday at lunchtime to take an initial dive into what the budget may mean for the Okanagan.