SOMEHOW I CANNOT help be feel a very LARGE disaster is looming on the near horizon – all of it due to COVID-19, and the accumulating provisos that have and continue to be made to, at least in the short-term, provide financial relief.
Businesses were closed, people were out of work, and no one knew how long that would be. For over a week now, B.C. has been at stage two of re-opening the province, provincial parks, workplaces and more.
Banks are allowed deferrals for loans and mortgages … and utilities including BC Hydro, provided deferrals for payment on regular monthly bills, and that included a 90-day deferral on payment offered by the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC).
The provincial government offered businesses filing and payment deadlines for the Employer Health Tax (EHT), the carbon tax, logging taxes, motor fuel taxes and more … along with rent relief … and much more.
The problem with deferring what is owed is … the piper will still have to be paid. For those unaware of the meaning and origin of that phrase, I provide the following … if you do not pay the piper (or pay your debts), something bad will happen to you … (from Writing Explained)
And Grammarist offers this explanation … when it is time to pay the piper it is time to accept the consequences of a thoughtless or rash action. Or the phrase can mean that it is time to fulfill a responsibility or promise, usually after the fulfillment has been delayed already …
Okay, so where the heck are you going with this, you ask?
Well, Monday, WorkSafeBC announced … it is extending the deferral period for quarterly premium payments for an additional three months, without penalty or interest …
That’s a deferral on payments owed, for what is now six months. And when, will the piper have to be paid?
Again, according to WorkSafeBC, payments for the first and second quarters will not be due until Oct. 20 … when third-quarter payments are due.
Businesses – including some of the hardest hit (hair salons and other personal services), restaurants, and many small mom and pop businesses — that were closed and only just recently opened — and which have had little much lower sales, and thus revenue, will be expected to ‘pay the piper’ for a total accumulated amount equal to NINE months!!
In other words – and to use another idiom – accumulated debts and payments have been further delayed. It’s a game … and a very unwise one … of ‘Kick the can down the road’. In other words, dealing with what is potentially a BIG problem, has been avoided – but only temporarily … as it has only been left to deal with at a future date.
The question know one seems to be asking, is what will happen when payments are defaulted because there is no money to pay them?
Government won’t be able to collect – meaning taxes will have to be increased and/or debt increased.
Utilities, and entities, such as ICBC will also not be able to collect those costs which have been kicked down the road, leaving them in an extremely vulnerable financial position.
Landlords will not be able to collect leaving them with no options other than to evict tenants, or to take pennies on the dollar for what is owed.
We need a plan to deal with how the piper is going to be paid – but I’m not hearing anything provincially from John Horgan’s NDP government … nor from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government in Ottawa.
The clock is ticking … and planning to deal with a potential serious financial disaster can’t be delayed as well — it has to begin now.