By Eric Bourque
Taxes and red tape consistently rank among the top concerns for members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an official with the organization told the Yarmouth Rotary Club Monday.
“Here in Nova Scotia tax is a serious problem,” said Jordi Morgan, CFIB’s vice-president, Atlantic Canada.
Addressing local Rotarians during their lunchtime meeting at the Rodd Grand Hotel, Morgan cited the tax and regulatory review announced earlier this year by the provincial government, calling it a “tremendous opportunity” for the province to address issues related to taxes and red tape.
The federation met recently with Premier Stephen McNeil and Finance Minister Diana Whalen, Morgan told Rotarians, and there have been positive signs, he said.
“There’s a lot of talk about small business, but we emphasized to the premier that talk is great, but we have to see some action being taken,” Morgan said. “We do have some hope that some of these moves are going to be made.”
Under the umbrella of red tape, inter-provincial trade barriers are an area where the CFIB would like to see some action, Morgan said.
About 90 per cent respondents to a CFIB survey said they would like to see the premiers make a commitment to reducing internal trade barriers.
Underscoring the need for action on this front, Morgan said doing business with a neighbouring province can, in some cases, be more difficult than dealing with a country overseas.
“There are businesses that have an easier time trading with Belgium than they do with New Brunswick,” he said.
Inter-provincial trade regulations can affect a wide variety of goods, he said, from wine to truck tires. Aside from affecting businesses, they can also have a more direct impact on workers, Morgan said, as in the case of different rules regarding skilled trades.
“I guess the question is what’s the difference, fundamentally, (between) practising a trade in Moncton versus practising it in Yarmouth, and there isn’t, really,” he said, adding that workers’ compensation is another area that should be addressed.
In his role as CFIB vice-president, Morgan’s job is to oversee the federation’s legislative activities in the Atlantic region.
Morgan had a long career in broadcasting and his work experience also includes a stint with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies.
In his presentation to Rotarians, Morgan noted that it was a tax issue -- a proposed 50 per cent tax rate for small businesses – that led to the creation of the CFIB in 1971.
The federation has 109,000 members nationally and about 5,000 in Nova Scotia.