By Blair Qualey
An important part of the provincial budget process is a series of pre-budget meetings led by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, allowing British Columbians to share their viewpoints.
As the CEO and President of the New Car Dealers Association of BC, I was honoured to make a presentation to the BC MLA members of the Committee. It allows our industry association to play a constructive role in keeping our economy moving forward, building on areas in which we’ve enjoyed collective success with government while, also drawing attention to areas that impact B.C.’s New Car Dealers, consumers and the economy.
Our presentation was based on three key issues related to our members’ needs:
1. B.C. luxury tax on vehicles kicks in at a $55,000 purchase price, while the average cost of a new vehicle has surpassed $60,000 in B.C.
Today, families pay a luxury tax on the purchase of a van or larger SUV that they need to get their kids to and from activities. It also applies to many pickup trucks that may be required for work or because a family or individual lives in a rural or isolated setting where that form of vehicle may be required.
The NCDA recommended that the B.C. Luxury Tax be reviewed (as the committee has recommended in its last three reports) with a view to increasing the threshold to reflect the current reality – and because the tax is not reflective of a luxury item, the levy should undergo a change in title.
2. Critical labour shortage facing new car dealers. Like many other sectors, our industry faces a critical labour shortage. We anticipate the need for 20,000 workers over the next decade, in various positions – ranging from automotive technicians, to finance to marketing, business development, human resources and more.
The NCDA has engaged with various provincial government agencies to try and find solutions for these workforce challenges. However, we recommended that further dedicated funding and efforts are necessary to support apprentice and jobs training programs that will be critical to the industry and the consumers our members serve.
3. Ongoing and predictable funding to maintain B.C.’s leadership position in zero-emission vehicle adoption.
The NCDA is proud to have administered the CleanBC Go Electric Vehicle Purchase Rebate Program on behalf of the provincial government since 2011. Our strong, collaborative partnership has helped to place British Columbia in a leadership position in zero emission vehicle (ZEV) sales in North America on a per capita basis.
However, predictable funding would build on our collective success in ZEV adoption and help push the provincial government closer to its zero emission vehicle sales targets. In the same fashion, ongoing and predictable funding are key elements required to continue building charging stations that will ensure British Columbians can access charging where they live, work and play.
The NCDA and our members are eager to help keep our economy moving in the right direction while supporting a cleaner, greener future. Our recommendations are focused on encouraging consumer spending, addressing critical requirements in our sector while creating career opportunities, and adjusting or removing onerous tax barriers for working families.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org