B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, seven months after the B.C. legislature approved borrowing the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and former finance minister Carole James roll out “StrongerBC,” a $1.5 billion business support plan for COVID-19, seven months after the B.C. legislature approved borrowing the money and four days before a snap election call, Sept. 17, 2020. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. VOTES 2020

Horgan on delayed tourism, small business aid: ‘It’s happening now, dude’

$300M grant program opens eight months after money approved

In a radio debate that may be the last head-to-head discussion before the Oct. 24 election, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan snapped back at B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson for accusing Horgan of delaying tourism and small business aid for months so he could use it as a prop for a planned election.

“It’s happening now, dude,” Horgan told Wilkinson on Vancouver radio station CKNW Oct. 15, referring to a $300 million fund for grants to small- and medium-sized businesses.

In fact, the only thing “happening now” is the opening of a long and restrictive application process that will dole out $10,000 to $30,000 to qualifying businesses between now and March 31, 2021, unless the money runs out before then.

After a summer-long consultation period, Horgan announced his economic recovery package seven months after the B.C. legislature unanimously approved $5 billion in COVID-19 pandemic aid in March. The Sept. 17 rollout of “StrongerBC” was widely seen as a pre-election event, and four days later Horgan made that official.

“We’re in a major crisis, with half the households in B.C. expecting someone to lose their job in the next year,” Wilkinson said during the debate. “A quarter of our small businesses expect to shut down completely in 12 months or less.”

Horgan replied: “They asked for the consultation, man.”

What businesses did not ask for was to wait until 2021 for help. The Business Council of B.C. and Metro Vancouver Board of Trade have issued reports pleading for action to keep businesses going so they can begin to rebuild in 2021.

RELATED: B.C. legislature meets hastily for COVID-19 emergency aid

RELATED: Businesses running out of time, Board of Trade tells NDP

Unlike Horgan’s promised second round of $1,000 pandemic payments to families that doesn’t consider personal income loss, the business grant program is strict. Available only to companies employing between two and 149 employees at least four months of the year, it requires a recovery plan with regular updates to government, and disclosure of all federal assistance received. B.C. grants can’t be used for fixed costs like mortgages or vehicle leases and businesses under three years old aren’t eligible.

Businesses must be collecting and remitting PST to qualify, and provide a year of payroll documents, two years of financial statements and three years of tax returns.

Tourism businesses can apply for an additional $10,000, if they can show that 75 per cent of their revenue comes from visitors from outside B.C.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read