In the light of the federal government’s proposed tax reforms, BlackBerry CEO John Chen says that small businesses are crucial to the success of his company, one which is currently in the midst of a major remodelling effort.
Opposition continues to mount over the Liberal government’s planned tax reforms, with critics saying that measures aimed at closing loopholes in the regulations surrounding incorporation are going to hurt small and medium businesses. In response, the government has offered a tax rate cut to small businesses that will see their tax rate go from 10.5 per cent down to nine per cent.
But many say it’s not enough and that the changes will destabilize whole industries such as agricultural production and health care, both of which involve individuals (farmers and doctors) who typically incorporate in order to secure their incomes.
The technology industry will also be hit hard by the changes, say industry representatives, who claim that the effect would be a reduction in incentives for start ups who need to access capital in order to create jobs and get off the ground.
“It is vital that before any decisions on this file are made, the federal government meets with Canadian innovators to discuss solutions that do not hurt Canada’s job and prosperity creators in the tech sector,” reads a letter from the Council of Canadian Innovators, which represents a large group of Canada’s tech companies and investors. “This is a race to the bottom and runs contrary to the government’s innovation and skills plan.”
For his part, Chen says that it’s very important for his company to be surrounded by what he calls a “healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem” of small businesses and start ups. “We like very much our partnerships with small business, especially our auto group and our R&D group,” says Chen, in conversation with BNN’s Michael Hainsworth.
“This is the reason why we opened up our autonomous vehicle research centre,” he says, “where the number one mission is to get other partners, big or small, to come in and help us build the next generation car.”
BlackBerry recently made the move from the NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange, with Chen saying that due to the company’s new direction away from the mobile phone market and into software and security solutions, the NYSE is a better fit.
“We want to get closer to our customers,” says Chen. “If you look at the NYSE, the list of companies, the banks, the health care providers, the law firms, oil and gas and so forth. They also have a tremendous marketing platform, for branding, for getting your message out there.”
Despite the tax uncertainty in Canada at the moment, Chen says that the current long run of success in the worldwide markets may mean we’re due for a slowdown in the near future but that there’s no reason to panic.
“We’ve seen this movie before,” says Chen. “You look at the year 2000, 2001, the dot-com bust, there was a slowdown there. It might just form a new base and keep moving up. I’m bullish on the economy overall.”