Premier John Horgan. File photo.

B.C. premier receives lukewarm reception at Chamber of Commerce luncheon

Speaking to a crowd of about 400 at a Victoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Horgan said they’re committed to ending MSPs

Premier John Horgan told a group of business leaders in Victoria that he can feel their pain, but his government won’t back away from ending the medical fees charged to B.C. residents.

Speaking to a crowd of about 400 at a Victoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Horgan said they’re committed to ending the medical services premium, placing the fee on businesses.

Horgan said he has been hearing from businesses with concerns the 1.95 per cent employers health tax on firms will increase costs and the government has formed a small business task force to look for ways to reduce that burden.

Horgan’s speech also touched on climate change, Indigenous rights issues, and his government’s speculation tax on vacant properties to provide more affordable housing and rental homes.

He says the government is continuing to consult with businesses about the employer health tax, but that will be the direction the government is taking.

Related: Al Gore condemns Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, sides with Horgan

The premier said he realizes there are challenges and the government wants to address them with business, but he was making no promises.

“This is what the rest of the country is doing,” Horgan says. “This is not an anomaly. We are catching up.”

Allan Cahoon, president and vice-chancellor at Royal Roads University, says the employer tax is a challenge.

“What it means is we’re going to have to recalculate our ability to generate revenue and accommodate it,” he said. “It was a surprise to get it. I think we can figure out how to do it.”

Related: One year later: Horgan approval rating remains high but NDP support low, poll says

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