The provincial government is working to make small business and tourism aid less restrictive, but only $65 million out of $300 million in funding has been spoken for by B.C. businesses. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

The provincial government is working to make small business and tourism aid less restrictive, but only $65 million out of $300 million in funding has been spoken for by B.C. businesses. (Photo credit: Pixabay)

B.C. eases rules for COVID-19 small business, tourism relief

BC Liberals say rules are still too onerous, preventing businesses from applying

The B.C. government has reduced the loss requirement for its long-awaited relief grants for small business and tourism operations devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions.

However, the BC Liberal critic for jobs, economic recovery, and innovation, Todd Stone, says that with only $65 million of the $300 million allocated for the program having been handed out since October, and the deadline for applications set for March 31, time is running out for struggling businesses.

Small businesses can qualify for grants up to $30,000 by showing 30 per cent loss of income at the time they apply, rather than 50 per cent, Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announced just before Christmas. Newer businesses in operation for 18 months can also now qualify. The original program, which opened during the October election campaign, restricted assistance to businesses in operation for at least three years.

The new application form is posted at www.bcbusinessrecoverygrant.com. Businesses that have already applied do not have to reapply, and their applications will be considered with the new criteria, Kahlon said.

The original criteria required small businesses to show they lost at least 50 per cent of their revenue in each month of the pandemic restrictions, with only 1,400 applications received up to Dec. 10, 2020.

During the brief mid-December legislature sitting to approve further borrowing for COVID-19 relief and recovery, Stone called for changes to the program, which he termed a “red tape disaster.” He recently called the program’s restrictions “onerous” and said that the changes made in December were not enough, as many businesses still do not qualify.

In addition to changing the requirements, Stone is calling on the government to extend the application period beyond its current March 31 expiration date. He also wants to government to commit to ensuring that the entire $300 million is used to support small- and medium-sized businesses, and not repurposed for other things.

Kahlon has also announced that the additional grant for tourism-related businesses is increased from a maximum $10,000 to $15,000. The original budget of $300 million for the program has not been increased, meaning it will last until the fund runs out, but $50 million has been dedicated to tourism operators only.

A government-appointed tourism industry task force released its report Dec. 9, calling for additional emergency aid as tourism businesses have been shutting down. Businesses that have closed or operate seasonally can also apply, Kahlon said.

Ian Tostenson, president of BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, welcomed the additional access to relief funding for a group that represents nearly 14,000 businesses employing more than 190,000 people. About a quarter of employees are aged between 15 and 25, many of them women, and they saw their most difficult December ever, he said.



editorial@accjournal.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility’s COVID-10 outbreak has been declared over by Interior Health. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID outbreak at Vernon’s Noric House declared over

10 deaths were linked to the outbreak at long-term care facility

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Most Read