Layered cost impact

About the policy

Minimum wage increases, rising municipal property taxes, and Alberta’s carbon levy have all been put in place at a time where unemployment remains high, and consumer spending low. On their own, each policy’s merits can be weighted.

However, taken together these policies are causing real harm to businesses and the community. Because when businesses see an increase in costs, it can mean higher prices for Calgary’s households, fewer funds for Calgary’s businesses to reinvest, and fewer job opportunities for Calgary’s workers.

We call this the layered cost impact.

To our knowledge, there has been no layered cost assessment completed by any level of government in Canada in recent years.

We hope these findings encourage all levels of government, and other organizations to conduct their own layered cost assessments.

What we are doing

We gathered data from Calgary businesses through online surveys, and follow-up consultations to assess the costs that minimum wage increases, rising municipal non-residential property taxes, and Alberta’s carbon levy will place on Calgary businesses, and the broader community in 2017 and 2018. This assessment also reports survey results from the Chamber’s Spring 2017 Calgary Business Leader Market Perceptions research.

Understanding the impact of layered costs

The Chamber recommends all levels of government fully consult businesses on policy changes, and undertake a “layered cost assessment” as part of the policy development process to mitigate current and future unintended consequences.

Alberta’s minimum wage increases

The Chamber recommends the Alberta Government stop the minimum wage increases at $13.60/hour until an in-depth analysis can be completed on its impact on provincial economic activity and employment. The Alberta Government should consider targeted approaches to poverty alleviation including an expansion of the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit to cover the full demographic of low-income working Albertans.

Calgary’s non-residential property tax bill

The Chamber recommends the City extend the non-residential property tax relief through 2018, while working to find a long-term solution to mitigate large swings in property assessments. The City can do their part to ensure future property taxes do not significantly rise by containing annual spending increases within a “Smart Spending Bandwidth” – the combined rates of consumer inflation plus population growth.

The cost of Canada’s and Alberta’s climate leadership

The Chamber recommends the Alberta Government take a more balanced approach to the Climate Leadership Plan by recycling a greater portion of the carbon levy’s revenue through a reduction in corporate and personal income taxes.