Small business worried about BCTF strike


43 per cent of entrepreneurs say impact will be negative; cite lost sales, impacts on employees, and longer hours for the business owner


THE Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released new survey results on Wednesday about the impact of a strike by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) on the province’s small businesses.

Forty-three per cent of business owners anticipate the strike will have a negative impact if it continues, with 47 per cent saying it would have no impact, 4 per cent saying it would be positive, and 6 per cent saying they don’t know. The most frequently cited impacts are lost sales (60 per cent), employees with children who have to stay home (41 per cent), and owners will have to work longer hours (21 per cent).

“A full-on teachers strike is disruptive for everyone, including entrepreneurs,” says CFIB Executive Vice President Laura Jones. “Business owners are worried about their own businesses as well as the broader consequences of putting BC’s budget balance at risk,” she continued, pointing out that 87 per cent of entrepreneurs in the same survey said balancing the budget should continue to be a top priority for the government.

When it comes to the BCTF demands, two-thirds (66 per cent) of entrepreneurs say any new collective agreement should be in line with what has been negotiated with other public sector unions, 13 per cent say there should be no increase at all, and a further 14 per cent say “other”.  Only 5 per cent support an increase in line with the BCTF demands.

Business owners were also asked how the savings on teacher salaries during the strike should be used. The BCTF wants the money to go to teachers. The government has committed to give parents $40 per day for each public school student under the age of 13.

Thirty-eight per cent of business owners agreed with the government that all savings should be returned to parents, 11 per cent supported the BCTF position that savings go to teachers, but almost one-half (45 per cent) said savings should be used to pay down the provincial debt.

“This underscores how committed small business owners are to wanting to pay down debt. They understand that today’s deficits and debts are tomorrow’s taxes, a legacy that isn’t good for our kids,” said Jones.

“The bottom line is that small business owners respect and admire teachers but most believe their union is out of line in asking for increases that are out of step with other public and private sector increases,” said Jones.

The CFIB controlled-access, web-based member survey had 1092 responses from August 19 to September 9.  Findings are statistically accurate to ±3 per cent 19 times out of 20.