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

Just Posted

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

The Desert Daze Music Festival is doggone good fun, as shown in this photo from the 2019 festival, and it will be back in Spences Bridge this September. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
‘Best Little Fest in the West’ returning to Spences Bridge

Belated 10th anniversary Desert Daze festival going ahead with music, vendors, workshops, and more

Internet speed graphic, no date. Photo credit: Pixabay
Study asks for public input to show actual Internet speeds in BC communities

Federal maps showing Internet speeds might be inflated, so communities lose out on faster Internet

Fireworks are among the things now banned throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, as the weather heats up and a dry summer looms. (Photo credit: Black Press files)
Category 2 and 3 open fires, fireworks now banned in Kamloops Fire Centre

Ban on certain types of fires and fire activities in place until Oct. 15

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Phil McLachlan/(Black Press Media
Man shot at Kamloops shopping centre

The man is believed to be in stable condition

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read