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Posted: April 8, 2021

Relief funding coming for hard-hit businesses

The B.C. government will provide more than $50 million to help the 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres affected by the March 30, provincial health orders.

The new Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant will provide affected businesses with up to $10,000 in one-time funding to help with expenses like rent, insurance, employee wages, maintenance and utilities. The grant can also help cover unexpected costs that resulted from the restrictions, such as the purchase of perishable goods.

More than $50 million from the $345-million Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program has been set aside for businesses through the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant. The individual amount a business receives will be based on the number of employees, a Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation media release noted.

“We understand how greatly this group of businesses have been, and continue to be, impacted by the pandemic,” said Premier John Horgan. “This grant will provide the funds these businesses need to help them through this extraordinary time. As a community, we have come so far together in this fight against COVID-19. Let’s stay the course and we will get through this together.”

“Our commitment to support businesses is unwavering and our work to ensure that they have every opportunity to get past this pandemic will continue,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We have reason to be hopeful and things will soon get better for all of us in British Columbia. In the meantime, our local businesses need us, and we need them. I encourage communities to BuyBC and shop local wherever you can.”

Todd Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation said the NDP government is trying to cover up recent incompetence and is touting new funding that is actually already in place but with a different name.

“After John Horgan attacked young service sector workers last week, this is another slap in the face to restaurant owners and employees,” said Stone.

“The NDP is basically acknowledging their overall program for small business — the business recovery grant program specifically — has been a disaster. All they have done today is give a new name to a pool of money that already exists, to cover up for the NDP’s incompetence — they had no plan to help the sector before, and they still don’t today. Far too many questions remain for restaurant owners and employees.

“John Horgan should have announced new funding to support struggling small businesses, ensured that this funding was in place on the same day as the recent health orders were announced, and fixed his botched business recovery grant program,” concluded Stone. “Catchphrases don’t cut it anymore — people are losing their jobs and need actual assistance. It’s time for the NDP to stop bungling and provide meaningful relief for businesses and people in need.”

The Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant is open to eligible businesses of any size that have been in operation since Feb. 1, 2021. To ensure affected businesses can access the funds quickly, the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant has a streamlined application.

“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for everyone in the restaurant industry,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice-president, Western Canada. “We appreciate that the B.C. government continues to find ways to help the hospitality sector. This new grant will be of great benefit to many restaurants as they continue to adapt and change in response to the pandemic.”

Ken Beattie, executive director, British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild added, “B.C. craft brewers appreciate the quick action by government last week to address our concerns and ensure tasting rooms can continue offering safe patio service. We welcome this additional support as our 200-plus members across B.C. navigate the difficult weeks ahead. From patios to growler sales to direct support for small business, every bit helps.”

Applications for the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant are expected to open the week of April 12.

Businesses impacted by the March 30, provincial health orders will be eligible to receive between $1,000 and $10,000 in grant funding. The majority of eligible businesses will receive a grant of $5,000.

To be eligible, a business is required to:

* confirm it has been affected by the recent provincial health orders;

* provide electronic banking information;

* confirm that it is registered as a B.C. business;

* produce a business validation document, such as a business licence, liquor licence, notice of assessment or lease agreement; and

* confirm majority ownership and operations and payment of taxes in B.C.

* Applications are expected to open the week of April 12, 2021, and will close on June 4, 2021, or until the funds are dispersed.

* Businesses that have received, or are in the application process for the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant, will be contacted about applying for the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant.

For more information on the Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant, including the application process and eligibility, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/business-relief

Lead image: The front door to the new Cheese Shop in Kimberley’s Platzl. The image was taken several weeks before the March 30 provincial health orders halting indoor dining. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW photo

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