The conditions for a healthy business community in the province are becoming less and less competitive compared our neighbours, according to Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president Chuck Davidson.
Speaking to approximately 200 Brandon chamber members, Davidson said businesses in Manitoba are insulated from the “boom and busts” associated with other regional economies, but many metrics of the Manitoba Prosperity Report showed several challenges for growth here at home.
Davidson said “average weekly wages” is one metric that he pays close attention to in the report.
“It’s the first sign of prosperity for me,” Davidson said about the report that looks at provinces from Ontario west from 2000 until 2012.
“In Manitoba, average weekly wages have increased by $258, almost 44 per cent over the last decade, but unfortunately when you compare with other jurisdictions, we remain dead last.”
In 2000, the average Manitoba worker made the same amount as an employee in Saskatchewan. More recent numbers, according to Davidson, show Saskatchewan workers make approximately $100 more per week.
“Over the course of a year, that is about $5,000 and that’s significant,” he said.
While it’s a complex issue, Davidson said business must continue to lobby governments to create an environment conducive for prosperity.
“We’re the only province with a payroll tax,” Davidson said, adding that payroll below $1.25 million isn’t taxed, payroll between $1.25 to 2.5 million is taxed at 4.3 per cent, while anything in excess is taxed at 2.15 per cent.
“It’s a job killer,” he said. “Companies don’t want to get to that level ... It’s a tax on jobs in this province.”
Prior to Davidson’s address, Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell recognized two Westman businesses that have served the province for a century.
Brandon’s Reesor’s Jewellery and Pringles’ Men’s Wear in Boissevain accepted awards.
Several other businesses celebrating milestone anniversaries in the community were also recognized: Crystal Hotel (130), Patmore Nursery (130), Westoba Credit Union (50), Cando Contracting (35), Raynor Bookkeeping (25), Walker Business Services (10) and Sunrise Credit Union (5).
The awards kicked off the Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Small Business Week,” which will run until Saturday and features several workshops available for entrepreneurs.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 22, 2013