Like many other small and medium sized businesses in Calgary, we just got hit with a HUGE increase in our property taxes. 81% huge.
We’ve been part of the Calgary business community since 1912. We’ve been a part of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses for over 46 years. We employ over 30 people. And most importantly, we are an insurance broker for many people and businesses in Calgary. We see first-hand what the increases in the cost of doing business in Calgary is doing to both businesses and people.
We want to help. But what can we do? Like every other SMB in Calgary, we haven’t budgeted for an 81% increase in our property taxes. Where will we get the money to cover that? Where will the other 8000 businesses in a similar position find extra money for tax in an already tight economic climate?
If we all follow the City’s lead, we will just keep passing the pain (and cost) downhill. For SMBs that are already running with tight margins and can’t pass along the increase to customers, it means their employees will take the brunt of the increase through pay decreases or layoffs. But will this fix anything?
And property taxes are just part of the problem. Costs for SMBs – and people – across Alberta are rising. For us, we see this most clearly in the auto insurance sector. Government decisions (like the one to raise property taxes) are being made without consideration of the consequences for real people and business.
When the 5% rate cap was put in place for auto insurance, it created an impossible situation for both insurers and people seeking insurance. It did the exact opposite of what it was meant to do – which was control costs. Now we have an insurance climate where both businesses and people that need insurance to drive can’t afford or can’t qualify for insurance.
So what do we do? Sadly, there are no quick fixes or easy answers.
Whether it’s the property tax increases or the impact of the 5% auto rates cap, we all need to take a stand to let our politicians know how this is negatively affecting our business.
For SMB property taxes – it’s time to rally together. Share our stories. Support each other. And participate in creating the change we want to see in government. There are already petitions, Facebook groups, etc. And council is looking for solutions that could take affect before bills are due that would change the total owing.
For auto insurance, the answer is very much the same. We need to get people and businesses sharing their stories about the impact the rate cap is having on their business and their rates. We need to talk to our MLAs and let them know how we feel. We need to respectfully participate in forums as and where they happen. For more about the insurance situation in Alberta and what you can do to make sure your rates don’t skyrocket, check out this article “Alberta Auto Insurance Update”.