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Carson Binda: David Eby needs to hit the brakes on corporate welfare

Instead of corporate welfare, the Eby government should be cutting the taxes and red tape that make it expensive to do business in B.C., writes Carson Binda
Premier David Eby, writes Carson Binda. | Darren Stone, Times Colonist

British Columbia’s finances are going up in flames, with $101 billion in debt, no plan to balance the budget and two credit rating downgrades.

Meanwhile, Eby spent $165 million on corporate welfare since May. Doling out corporate welfare is like pouring lighter fluid on the financial dumpster fire. 

Instead of picking winners and losers with taxpayer cash, the Eby government should reduce taxes and create a level playing field for local businesses.

Eby kicked $80 million out the door to E-One Moli Energy (Canada) Ltd. in November. E-One Moli is a Taiwanese battery company that wants to build a new facility in Maple Ridge.

He also sent $10 million to Massive Canada Building Systems Inc. to build a timber production facility in Williams Lake.

Then he gave a $75-million hand-out to AbCellera Biologics Inc. (Nasdaq:ABCL), a B.C.-based biotech unicorn. 

In total, that corporate welfare will cost more than $130 for a family of four.

That $165 million in corporate welfare is flowing out from the B.C. Manufacturing Jobs Fund. The fund exists to take taxpayers’ money and eventually give a whopping $180 million to corporations. That means the government wants to soak you for another $15 million.

The Manufacturing Jobs Fund is in addition to the InBC Investment Corp. – a separate $500-million fund that bureaucrats use to roleplay as investment bankers.  

Despite the hundreds of millions being spent on corporate welfare in B.C., the government is showing a startling lack of transparency. The government has refused to disclose contracts, terms of service or any documents relating to the giveaway to E-One Moli, other than a provincial news release.

If the government thinks its corporate welfare is a good deal, why not show the public the details?

The government picking winners and losers through corporate welfare results in wasteful spending and ineffective business practices. It’s also bad for competition. How are companies supposed to compete on a level playing field when the government hands over tens of millions of dollars to their competitors? 

For every dime the government hands out in corporate welfare, there’s less money to fund programs, cut taxes or reduce B.C.’s debt burden.

We’ve seen the negative impacts of corporate welfare across Canada. In Ontario, the NextStar EV battery factory received about $15 billion in corporate welfare from the provincial and federal government. That money is being used to hire about 900 Korean workers, instead of Canadian taxpayers.

Instead of corporate welfare, the Eby government should be cutting the taxes and red tape that make it expensive to do business in B.C.

Government debt is just deferred taxation. Every dime of debt that the Eby government wracks up today is money that needs to be paid back in the future. The government should be paying down hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, instead of giving corporate welfare to the few handpicked winners of Ebynomics.

In 2024, the interest alone on the debt is expected to cost more than $3.8 billion. That’s $73 million per week. That $3.8 billion we’re sending to the bankers in Toronto and New York would go a long way towards scrapping the most punitive taxes that hit small businesses, like the employer health tax. 

If Eby continues on his big spending bonanza, businesses and taxpayers across the province are going to have to pick up the tab either with more taxes or fewer government services. 

Eby needs to get serious about the economy. The best way to help all businesses is to cut taxes and red tape, not taking money from taxpayers and giving the cash to hand-picked corporations.

Carson Binda is the British Columbia director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation