Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

The B.C. NDP government has announced a second overhaul of its struggling small business and tourism COVID-19 recovery grant program, and extended the deadline five months for a $300 million relief fund that is still less than half subscribed.

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon has been under pressure to fix the program since he was appointed to cabinet after last October’s election. After the first overhaul in December, Kahlon reported Thursday that $55 million or more than one sixth of the fund has been granted, with a March 31 application deadline approaching. The program was launched during the election campaign, with few small and medium businesses qualified or able to apply for emergency funds of $30,000, with an extra $15,000 for qualified tourism businesses.

“From day one we’ve been really nimble with this program,” Kahlon told reporters March 4. “More than 50 per cent of the applications have been tourist-based businesses, so that shows it’s getting to the people who need it most.”

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone said months of delays make the changes too late for some businesses.

“I’m glad the NDP government is making these changes which the B.C. Liberals have been advocating for since last year,” Stone said. “Unfortunately, this has taken so long that many small businesses have already closed down, and it might be too late for many others.”

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade applauded the latest changes, lowering the bar for qualifying to demonstrated revenue loss of 30 per cent at some point in the year-long pandemic. Previously, businesses had to show that they experienced at least a 70 per cent loss, and the program now includes funds to hire accountants to do the application paperwork.

Kahlon said the latest change to revenue loss requirements has allowed assistance for some businesses that have already applied and failed to qualify.

RELATED: Small businesses starting to get relief money, Kahlon says

RELATED: MPs urge Trudeau not to trigger election during pandemic

GVBOT president Bridgitte Anderson said the announcement is “welcome news,” referring to a recent survey where nearly half of surviving business owners expect pandemic revenue to extend for another three to six months.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities and research has shown they have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic,” Anderson said. “Since this program was first announced our members have had difficulty accessing the program and meeting the eligibility criteria.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

The Nechako Centre building was a retail space built in 1955. The building is now vacant and is listed for sale for $4.4Million. Sitting on 0.72 acres, the building is currently under a redevelopment/revitalization process. (Jacob Lubberts Photo)
Nechako Centre teardown in Kitimat for sale at $4.4 million

B.C. assessments valued the property at $843,000 with a land value of only $492,000

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read