Government highlights its COVID-19 supports for B.C. businesses

RAVI Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, on Thursday highlighted the government’s supports for people, B.C. businesses and communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, stating: “Our focus has always been on putting people first. The pandemic exposed deep, long-standing vulnerabilities in our society and reinforced our commitment to making life better for everyone. During the peak of the pandemic, we provided the highest per-capita supports for people and businesses in Canada.”

Kahlon said that iIn total, the Province has now exceeded the initial commitment to provide more than $1.5 billion to help people, businesses and communities impacted by the pandemic with the government’s economic recovery plan.

This includes more than $530 million that went into the pockets of local business owners to help them navigate the challenges of operating in the pandemic and to continue to safely support the people in their communities.

Through the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery, Circuit Breaker Business Relief and COVID-19 Closure Relief grant programs, the Province provided:

* $353 million in the Lower Mainland to support approximately 22,300 businesses;

* close to $85 million on Vancouver Island and the coast to help approximately 5,300 businesses;

* $53 million in the Thompson-Okanagan to help approximately 3,400 businesses;

* more than $17 million in the Kootenay to help nearly 1,100 businesses;

* more than $11 million in the Cariboo to help more than 730 businesses;

* more than $4.5 million on the North Coast to help approximately 285 businesses;

* close to $4.2 million in the Northeast to help more than 260 businesses; and

* close to $2.7 million in the Nechako to help more than 160 businesses.

Kahlion said that in addition to direct supports to businesses, the Province helped small business owners pivot through the Launch Online Grant Program. This $42-million program allowed small and medium-sized businesses throughout the province to build or strengthen their digital commerce capabilities to sell made-in-B.C. products online.

Other investments by the Province throughout the pandemic included:

* $4.5 million to cover the tuition costs for close to 6,000 people from small and medium-sized B.C. businesses to participate in Alacrity Canada’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp;

* $19.4 million invested to help 33 small tourism-dependent municipalities build, adapt and diversify their tourism infrastructure, and another $13.6 million to support 54 targeted tourism development projects throughout the province;

* the Supply Chain Resiliency Program’s approximately $6 million for 24 projects to strengthen manufacturing supply chains and help protect the province from global supply interruptions;

* $10 million through the Accelerating Manufacturing Scale-Up Program for 43 projects to strengthen innovation and diversification and create new family-supporting jobs; and

* $8 million through the B.C. Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund for non-repayable grants to Indigenous tourism businesses experiencing business disruption and financial loss.

Kahlon said: “As we look toward the spring and the impacts of today’s global challenges, we will continue to build on B.C.’s steady economic recovery. Wages are rising, and B.C. has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. And there is more work to do to make sure more people can get the supports they need to succeed.”