ACC boss says give small, medium business a break

Alberta’s small and medium businesses are laboring under a cloud of uncertainty right now, and 2017 doesn’t seem...

Ken Kobly

Ken Kobly

Alberta’s small and medium businesses are laboring under a cloud of uncertainty right now, and 2017 doesn’t seem to offer any promise of relief. That’s the bleak but blunt message a guest speaker from the Alberta Chambers of Commerce had in Wetaskiwin Mar. 9.

Ken Kobly, president and CEO of the ACC, spoke at the regular luncheon meeting of the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce held at the Best Western hotel. The ACC represents 126 chambers across the province, and Kobly, who said in his 13 years with the ACC has worked with six different premiers, reminded the members the ACC lobbies the provincial and federal governments on their behalf.

Kobly said the ACC has had some wins lately, and some losses.

When it comes to wins, tax credit programs, pipeline approvals and a cut in the small business tax rate were all clear cut. Kobly noted though that the small business tax rate might not be so clear-cut. He said the tax cut was one per cent which, in the long run, doesn’t make a huge difference.

He said a major victory was the federal government dropping what some suspected was an idea to start taxing benefit plans.

Some losses the ACC coped with over the past year is an increase in the general tax rate, plus the increase to minimum wage which Kobly said was a major hit to businesses. A recent ACC survey of Alberta businesses, prior to the hike, had 1,600 respondents and many noted such a minimum wage hike would result in cutting of worker hours, staff reduction and hiring of fewer students.

Kobly stated a subsequent survey showed that Alberta business owners followed through on what they said they were going to do, and Stats Can’s numbers prove that. Full-time jobs are being converted to part-time jobs and 49 per cent of the survey respondents stated layoffs have resulted from the minimum wage hike. He also stated that all the surveys are available on the ACC website,

Kobly pointed out that as minimum wage increases, other benefits that working people might have enjoyed, such as GST rebate, disappear. In fact, it appears the largest beneficiary of minimum wage hikes is the federal government, as sees lower costs and more tax revenue.

The president and CEO said the ACC would like to see an approach for increasing minimum wage that includes all facets of society making sacrifices, not just business.

Another loss for Alberta businesses was the arrival Jan. 1 of the carbon levy he stated. Kobly said in many cases, the cost of goods and services has gone up from a tax that is rather stealthy in its manner. “In my opinion it’s a hidden sales tax,” said Kobly.

The carbon levy isn’t visible at the gas pumps he noted. He pointed out one of the only places you’ll see the carbon levy pop its head up is on your home gas bill. Kobly said the ACC would actually like to talk to a business owner who uses a lot of natural gas to find out more about the levy’s effect.

Kobly stated the many losses the ACC has seen are bad enough individually, but combined, it creates for a very challenging environment in Alberta for small and medium size businesses to prosper.

“When you start laying those costs on top of each other, that’s when you get the situation you find in Alberta today,” he said.

He said lots of small and medium sized Alberta businesses are struggling right now and some are barely hanging on and that’s why the ACC is advising Alberta’s NDP government to be careful about bringing in more financial burden on small and medium sized Alberta businesses.

He did note that although Alberta saw a small revenue increase in some areas, that was wiped out by very large new spending.

More bad news includes a rumor that the government is going to increase the capital gains tax from 50 per cent to 66 per cent or more.

As well, Kobly said the business community is very concerned about the upcoming session of the provincial legislature and some of the business items, such as legislation that would take small businesses with five employees off of the small business tax rate.

Other upcoming items include changes to the WCB which could impact small business, the farm and ranch workers bill, and labour law changes that would ban replacement workers during a strike or lockout among others.

During a question and answer session Kobly discussed issues like import/export, deficit, youth pay, foreign workers, business mentoring, capital gains tax and the business climate in Alberta.

Kobly also extended congratulations to the Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce for reforming and reorganizing in 2016. He also said he was very impressed by the Wetaskiwin Chamber’s agreement with the Leduc Chamber for management services. Kobly said he’s never seen such an agreement in Alberta before.

Watch Kobly speak at Black Press TV:

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Most Read