By Blair Qualey
When the B.C. government tabled Budget 2023 last week, it was abundantly clear that the focus was on affordability and reducing the cost of living for British Columbians. However, Budget 2023 also contained several initiatives intended to ensure a greener and more secure future for generations to come.
Among the highlights is a $44-million investment over three years to continue to support British Columbia’s transition to a zero-emission economy, $40 million of which is dedicated to the CleanBC Go Electric Commercial Vehicle Pilots Program.
There’s also an ongoing commitment to the CleanBC Go Electric Passenger Vehicle Rebate Program which the New Car Dealers Association (NCDA) administers on behalf of the province. More than 85,000 ZEVs travel highways in this province today and the rebate program has been a contributing factor, along with increased support for charging stations. It will also continue to be critical aspect of the province meeting its ambitious target of 100 per cent of all new light-duty vehicle sales in the province being ZEVs by 2035.
We are encouraged by the commitment to create thousands of new training seats for in-demand fields because our sector, just like other industries, requires apprentice and jobs training programs that are critical to our industry and consumers. The BC automobile sector faces a critical labour shortage, with industry projecting the need for 20,000 workers over the next decade – so action on this front is a must for the 400 new car dealers operating in more than 50 communities across B.C.
The NCDA will continue to advocate for tax policies that will put B.C.’s New Car Dealers in the strongest competitive environment possible. And we will also continue to work with government to address challenges related to the B.C. Luxury Car Tax. The levy kicks in at a $55,000 purchase price and hasn’t been adjusted for inflation in several years. As a result, many standard vehicles of today fall under its scope, including vans and SUVs that families rely on to shuttle their children around – and pickup trucks that are required by many businesses and individuals, such as those who live and work in resource-based communities.
B.C.’s New Car Dealers want to be part of the solution in keeping the economy moving in the right direction. To that end, the NCDA will continue to advocate for policy and funding decisions that help encourage consumer spending and support jobs, and incentivizing consumers through EV and charging equipment rebates. Government support in skills-training will also be central to the future success for our sector, the broader economy, and in the lives of a new generation of young people who are exploring career opportunities.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org