RCC on January 9, 2017, sent the leaders of the major provincial parties for their strategies on key issues for retailers with operations in British Columbia. Below is a snapshot of the questions asked to the parties. To view the full questionnaire, please click here


RCC's British Columbia 2017 General Election Questionnaire

Retailers are proud of, and committed to improving, B.C.’s unique extended producer responsibility system, which is 100% producer-paid and 100% producer-controlled. The system results in an annual cost of $230 million to B.C.’s retailers and our customers. These monies are paid to independent non-profit stewardship organizations regulated by the Recycling Regulation.
1. Will your party commit to the principle of 100% producer control of B.C.’s extended producer responsibility system?

Green Party BC Greens believe in the principle of 100% producer responsibility but it is difficult to see how it could work without involvement by the retail sector. BC Greens would work with producers and retailers to streamline processes and reduce the burden on retailers.
NDP Our commitment is to review the Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) system with a focus on Multi-Material BC (MMBC). Our MLA Lana Popham has been a major critic of MMBC and the Recycling Regulation that created it. She called it a “Godzilla-sized red tape monster” and asked the BC Auditor General to audit the organization, only to find out the government had set the regulations in such a way as to make it immune to government audit. We’ll change that. We want to review MMBC and make sure it is working for BC businesses and consumers, and that it’s transparent, accountable, and cost effective. We understand that MMBC is not controlled by its producers, and 100% producer control is one of the possible changes that might make for a fairer system.
Liberals Yes – we are proud of the success of this model in BC to date.

2. Will you work toward harmonization of British Columbia’s Recycling Regulation and stewardship system with those operated by other provinces, most notably Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba?

Green Party Yes. The BC Green Party is committed to harmonizing regulations with other provinces and to providing business with a consistent, predictable regulatory environment.
NDP We’ll review the issue and harmonize where practical, but must keep in mind British Columbia’s unique circumstances like the fact that our geography presents certain challenges not faced by other provinces.
Liberals We look forward to working with the Retail Council and other stakeholders to make further improvements to BC’s recycling and waste reduction programs.

3. Will you commit to partnering with business to consolidate stewardship organizations in an effort to ease operational simplicity?

Green Party Yes. A BC Green government supports a streamlined regulatory frameworks with clear rationale.
NDP There are many stewardship organizations for different products – one for household paper and plastic, one for used oil, one for batteries, etc. We’ll partner with the stewardship organizations and producers to see whether there are opportunities to merge some.
Liberals We look forward to working with the Retail Council and other stakeholders to make further improvements to BC’s recycling and waste reduction programs.

4. Will you commit to increasing enforcement to ensure fairness, particularly in the printed paper and packaging regime?

Green Party Yes. Regulatory regimes without adequate enforcement are ineffective and unfair.
NDP We would like to review MMBC to increase fairness for everybody. We don’t feel that the accountability and transparency is there to see what’s actually happening and to know who is paying and who is not paying. Currently MMBC is set up so you can’t even do a government audit of it, which we will need to do to even start making it fairer.
Liberals We look forward to working with the Retail Council and other stakeholders to make further improvements to BC’s recycling and waste reduction programs.

5. Will you support innovation to develop alternative uses and markets for materials prior to their being obligated for extended producer responsibility?

Green Party Yes. We believe government policies should be evidence-based whenever possible. But in the absence of clear evidence, policy needs to error on the safe side.
NDP We would like to open up the market in a way that would find new uses for recycled materials that are already covered by EPR. A first step will be to make sure that recycled materials are available for use by those who would market them. We opposed the way that MMBC monopolized recycled paper and plastic and killed businesses like Syntal Products in Central Saanich, which turned household plastics into plastic lumber for structures like park benches and patio furniture. We support innovation to develop alternative uses and markets for recycled materials, but will have to review whether this support could fall under existing incentive programs or whether a new one could be created.
Liberals We look forward to working with the Retail Council and other stakeholders to make further improvements to BC’s recycling and waste reduction programs.

6. Would you support a change to allow for a province-wide fee for single-use plastic bags?

Green Party Yes. We believe a province-wide fee will be more effective in reducing the use of single-use plastic bags.
NDP Our MLA Lana Popham began her public career as the “plastic bag lady”, campaigning to reduce the use of plastic bags. A uniform system province-wide would allow for easier implementation and management, especially for retailers with multiple locations. We are open to this idea and would work with retailers and municipalities to determine the best path forward.
Liberals We look forward to working with the Retail Council and other stakeholders to make further improvements to BC’s recycling and waste reduction programs.

7. Would your party support the implementation of a made-in-B.C. value-added tax, in the manner anticipated by the Commission on Tax Competitiveness, to put B.C.’s economy on a more-equal footing with competing jurisdictions?

Green Party BC Greens acknowledge that the BC Provincial Sales Tax regime is out-of-date and make BC businesses less competitive. It is vital that changes such as a value-added tax be driven through a comprehensive consultation strategy for British Columbians. A BC Green government would give priority to working with business and the public to reform the tax system to be fair and administratively simple.
NDP No, we opposed the HST when it shifted tax from business to customers. Hundreds of services that are not now taxed would be an additional cost for British Columbians. We have no plans to expand the sales tax by creating a made-in-BC value-added tax.We do however recognize there are cases for change in the existing system, and would support efficiencies to eliminate duplication and create ease for businesses.
Liberals BC is the national leader in economic growth and job creation, and the retail sector is an important part of that – with strong growth from 2015 to 2016, and forecasts predicting BC will again outpace the national average this year. In addition to cutting Medical Service Premiums in half for two million British Columbians as a first step towards eliminating premiums, and reducing small business tax 20 per cent to the second-lowest rate in the country, we are pleased to have delivered on the Commission’s recommendation to eliminate PST from industrial purchases of electricity. We recognize the ongoing need to ensure BC’s tax structure is competitive with other jurisdictions as we work to attract investment and create jobs.

8. Would you support the replacement of the exemption for children’s clothing and footwear with an increase in the B.C. Family Bonus program to offset the end of the exemption?

Green Party In reviewing the BC tax system, BC Greens will be targeting frivolous tax measures that add to the complexity of the system without appreciably advancing societal objectives. This may be an example of such a tax. This proposal would be looked at as part of a larger, more effective plan for helping families and tackling affordability issues.
NDP We have no plans to change the exemption for children’s clothing. The PST exempts many different items on the understanding that they’re “necessities”: for example, food, rent, hydro bills, medicine, children’s clothing and diapers are all exempt and help protect families who spend a larger portion of their incomes on these necessities. We support this.
Liberals We are proud that BC has maintained the lowest middle-class tax burden in Canada, leaving more money in families’ pockets. We will continue to evaluate ways to improve affordability for BC families.

9. Would your party support investigation of the replacement the current system with one that would be easier to administer and offer better protection of our customers’ personal information?

Green Party Yes
NDP Yes, we would be pleased to investigate ways to make the administration of this exemption easier.
Liberals We look forward to further evaluating this suggestion.

10. Would your government’s Minister of Finance write to his Federal counterpart to dissuade the Federal government from raising the de minimis level on international courier and postal shipments?

Green Party Yes. The BC Green Party has recognized that this is a significant tax leak of our PST system. It is also one of the major causes that tilt the playing field towards non-BC based businesses. the BC Green Party is in favour of eliminating such exemptions, especially knowing that there is widespread abuse (sellers under declare the value of shipments to qualify for the import exemption). In addition, we would use the latest technologies to collect PST at the border crossings in order to further level the playing field for the BC retail sector.
NDP We have not previously considered this issue but we would be happy to learn more about how it affects your members.
Liberals We look forward to further evaluating this suggestion.

11. Do you support tying the annual increase in the minimum wage to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index for British Columbia?

Green Party Yes.
NDP Yes we support tying the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. However, we should note that we have committed to increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour over our first term of government.
Liberals On the minimum wage, we’ve worked to achieve a balance between ensuring increases are reasonable for employers while helping employees keep up with the cost of living -- and providing businesses with a reasonable timeframe to implement each increase.

12. Do you support the provision of a minimum of six months’ notice of an increase in the minimum wage?

Green Party Yes.
NDP We believe certainty is essential in policy decision making. That is why we have announced our intentions concerning the minimum wage well in advance of the election. We will produce a timeline with increments for increases in the minimum wage at the outset of this initiative following the election. This will allow businesses to plan for those incremental increases through to the fulfilment of our $15.00 per hour minimum wage.
Liberals Yes. We are committed to providing businesses with a reasonable timeframe to implement each increase.

13. Do you support making the work week “the period between midnight on a Saturday and midnight on the following Saturday, or, any seven consecutive days established by consistent practice of an employer”?

Green Party BC Greens support harmonizing employment standards with other provinces.
NDP We are looking forward to a review of the Employment Standards Act. We expect that issues like the identification of the work week for overtime purposes will be incorporated in that review. It is our intention that there will be consultation with organizations including the Retail Council of Canada as part of that process.
Liberals We look forward to further evaluating this suggestion.


14. Do you support expanding the government’s liquor-in-grocery model to include a greater range of products in a larger number, and range, of grocery stores?

Green Party Yes.
NDP The government’s decision to sell wine in grocery stores and restrict products sold to BC only wines has generated a multi-country trade challenge not just to BC’s wine in grocery store model, but to all preferred treatment of BC wineries and VQA products, a challenge that is a direct threat to BC’s wine industry, especially small and medium-sized wineries. This trade challenge is a further threat to international negotiations between Canada and the United States in relation to softwood lumber, an industry critically important to British Columbia. We will assess the legal position of British Columbia in relation to these licenses in light of our entire trade portfolio once we have received full disclosure of information and legal opinions that have been withheld from the Opposition and the public. For example, the government has still not identified the origin of the disputed “dormant” licenses at the centre of this trade dispute, licenses that were sold by auction by government to large grocery stores to sell exclusively BC wines.
Liberals We are proud of the progress to date of our common-sense changes to liquor regulations in British Columbia, which are contributing to growth in the retail, tourism, and hospitality sectors. These changes have been based on feedback from a wide range of British Columbians, and we will continue to collect input as we consider future reforms.


15. Would you support provincial regulation to limit the scope and authority of municipal by-laws that frustrate the Province’s stated intent?

Green Party No. BC Greens believe that municipal governments should have considerable latitude to plan their communities according to the wishes of the local public.
NDP We support the independence of elected city councils to determine the best approach to the retail sales of liquor in their communities. We encourage your members to advocate directly with their city councils for policies that they feel would better serve local communities.
Liberals We are proud of the progress to date of our common-sense changes to liquor regulations in British Columbia, which are contributing to growth in the retail, tourism, and hospitality sectors. These changes have been based on feedback from a wide range of British Columbians, and we will continue to collect input as we consider future reforms.

16. Would you support an end to the government’s monopoly on procurement, transport, warehousing and distribution of liquor?

Green Party We would be prepared to review options.
NDP The BC NDP has supported the restaurant industry’s request to be able to purchase directly from both private and public stores and distributors, a policy initiative that was not supported by the BC Liberals. With that said, the BC NDP supports a well-managed, publicly-owned distribution chain for alcohol. The privatization of the public distribution model would require the imposition of significant additional taxes to recover the lost profits of this operating model, profits that are used to fund important and essential public services that benefit retailers. The BC NDP has no interest in increasing taxes in order to privatize the distribution of alcohol.
Liberals We are proud of the progress to date of our common-sense changes to liquor regulations in British Columbia, which are contributing to growth in the retail, tourism, and hospitality sectors. These changes have been based on feedback from a wide range of British Columbians, and we will continue to collect input as we consider future reforms. We are not considering this specific change at this time.

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