Glimmer of hope in budget
Kirk Penton - Mar 20, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Kirk Penton
KPMG’s Nicole Watson (left) and Judith Carbonneau Kaplan address the chamber breakfast on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s federal budget didn’t get the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce fired up one way or another.

“Nothing to get overly upset about,” executive director Dan Rogers said Wednesday. “Nothing to get overly excited about.”

There was one item, however, buried deep in the massive document that piqued the chamber’s interest, and it has to do with interprovincial trade. It’s a hot topic in the Okaganan due to the impact the current regulations, which are restrictive, have on the wine and spirits industry.

The Liberals intend to remove the federal requirements that called for alcohol moving from one province to another to be sold to the liquor control board. It’s a small step towards interprovincial trade, but Rogers said at least it’s a step in the right direction.

“A winery can potentially and theoretically sell directly to a vendor or a restaurant in Alberta, without going through the Alberta Liquor Control Board,” Rogers said. “But the province still has what happens within their jurisdictional boundaries. That’s why those interprovincial agreements that ensure free flow across borders are critically important. It’s a good step by the federal government to make that regulatory change. Now we need to see the provinces respond as well.”

The chamber held its annual post-federal budget breakfast on Wednesday morning at Kelowna Yacht Club for members and others with business interests. KPMG’s Nicole Watson and Judith Charbonneau Kaplan covered a few of the budget’s highlights and how the resulting taxes will affect businesses.

“It’s been coined as a political budget in an election year, so not totally unexpected,” Rogers said. “There are some good indications of some things that might help business in the Okanagan, particularly if we’re making some strides on freeing up interprovincial trade when it comes to wine and spirits. That’s a real positive.

“… We just think it’s a missed opportunity to address some of the major issues that the Canadian chamber has been mentioning to address fully; the issues around an updated tax code, which hasn’t been done for decades.”

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