Presentation to Budget Committee Emphasizes Three Issues that Impact Consumers
July 3, 2019
By Blair Qualey
Each year, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services conducts public consultations to inform the provincial budget preparation process. This annual opportunity provides an effective platform for individuals, advocacy groups and associations to address taxation and finance-related matters with our provincially elected MLA’s.
BC’s New Car Dealers consider this an important process to ensure government understands and hears first-hand about the impact and implications of its policy decisions for our members and consumers in this province. We believe New Car Dealers bring an important perspective to the discussion because we represent 390 small businesses in 55 communities across the province. Our sector generates about $16 billion in economic activity and employs more than 30,000 people around the province.
The layers of taxation that small businesses operate under is certainly an issue of concern by our members. Any business needs financial predictability and certainty to operate well along with some level of flexibility to absorb the ebbs and flows of the economy. That margin is small for many of our members because of the increasing and various levels of taxation, levies and other associated costs by all three levels of government.
In dealing with consumers on a day-to-day basis, our members will hear any number of concerns or suggestions and it’s through that lens that we approached this year’s presentation to MLA’s.
A lingering issue that impacts many working men and women, particularly those in rural and resource-dependent communities across the province, is the issue of what constitutes a luxury vehicle. A heavy-duty pickup may be part of how many maintain their livelihood, yet a luxury tax is placed on all vehicles at the $55,000 and higher price-point. When the figure was established a number of years ago, it likely reflected the cost of what most would consider a high-end vehicle. But with new technology and inflation, all vehicle prices have risen.
New Car Dealers also advocated for the continued support of government in driving the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in this province. The partnership between BC’s New Car Retailers and government has been a productive one by making EVs more affordable through the CEVforBC™ Program; making policy and investment decisions that support a broader fast-charging network, and; ongoing education and public awareness for consumers and car dealers to ensure there is an understanding of the latest EV offerings and EV-related developments.
In addition, the issue of how best to address the workforce needs of the future is one facing many sectors, including the automotive industry. To that end, our presentation also encouraged government to continue its investments in job and apprenticeship training around the province.
The challenge is a complex one because maintenance and repairs require a more sophisticated level of training for mechanics or technicians to maintain or repair EVs. When problems emerge, they are usually computer-related or software-related. Furthermore, we must increasingly adapt and ensure salespeople, marketing staff and others also have a detailed knowledge of the latest technology and innovation in order to serve customers in a first-class fashion.
Clearly, the issues that we have brought forward require ongoing dialogue and collaboration with government. It’s a partnership that has proven productive and of benefit to members and consumers alike, and it’s one we will continue to support and contribute to. We thank the Standing Committee for inviting our participation in the conversation.
For the latest information on careers in automotive, visit: https://carsandjobs.com/
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dealer Members with New Car Dealers Association
We represent more than 375 New Car Dealers throughout British Columbia.