Entering 2024, Metro Vancouver’s economy is faltering

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade is critical of the City of Vancouver’s hike in fees and taxes for businesses in its 2024 budget, which it says will hurt companies further.

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Buckle up for the start of 2024. According to the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, which has taken data from the fourth quarter for Metro Vancouver, the local economy has continued to slow over the last three months.

Financial pressures persist across the region, and while interest rates have since started to trend downwards, demand for goods and services have yet to rise once more. Business pessimism, says the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade – which released its own press missive highlighting the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions’ data — is persisting in Canada, and has reached its highest point in two years.

The most notable challenges for the Metro Vancouver region over the next three months, the report suggests, are cost-related obstacles (78 percent), rising inflation (59 percent), and the ever-present labour-related issues (51 percent). More than half of local businesses expect an increase in operating expenses, followed by concerns over decreasing profitability, and a decline in cash reserves.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, which bills itself as Western Canada’s most active and influential business association, is attempting to raise awareness of the rise in pessimism around the Metro Vancouver economy. 

“The convergence of rising operating expenses, diminishing profitability, and continued upward pressure on prices is creating strong financial headwinds, impacting both businesses as well as families and individuals,” said Bridgitte Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. “The data is clear that businesses are struggling with affordability considerations in a similar way to individuals, squeezing their finances and making it more challenging to maintain operations, increase wages, or grow.”

The non-profit highlights that the report arrived in tandem with the City of Vancouver’s 2024 budget, which it suggests will hamper businesses further. The budget includes a 7.5 percent increase in property taxes, as well as a 30 percent higher business license fee, among other changes. The organization says this will add to the hurdles currently facing SMEs in the city, many of which are already struggling, and it has calculated that local businesses will face nearly $6.5 billion in additional provincial government-imposed costs between 2022 and 2024.

The organization has also been critical in the past of the government’s response to challenges facing businesses — a trend that’s true of ABC’s majority on city council, as well as the B.C. government and its policies to tackle business challenges

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