FILE – Premier John Horgan is joined by Finance Minister Carole James during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The British Columbia government is expected to reveal how it plans to stimulate an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic today. Horgan and James are scheduled to release details of the $1.5-billion economic recovery plan this afternoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

The B.C. government is unveiling a host of measures meant to get the economy going, including a tax credit for employers who bring on more employees in the last few months of 2020.

The province’s economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down much of B.C. for several months this spring. Last week, Finance Minister Carole James said the province was projecting a $12.8 billion deficit for the fiscal year that ends in March 2021.

READ MORE: B.C. deficit forecast $12.8 billion after first three months of COVID-19

Although B.C.’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing in the past few weeks, with an average of more than 100 cases in recent days, the province is pushing ahead with economic recovery plans.

“COVID-19 changed not just our world, but the world,” Premier John Horgan said at a press briefing Thursday (Sept. 17).

“There is no playbook on how to handle a global pandemic.”

Between February and August, B.C. lost 33,900 jobs in wholesale and retail trade; 25,200 in information, culture and recreation; and 24,600 in construction, the only trades field to see a loss of jobs. However, not all industries lost jobs; utilities gained 6,700 thousand jobs; professional, scientific and technical services gained 5,500 jobs and agriculture gained 4,200 jobs.

Consumer spending saw a big dip in the spring of 2020, although monthly retail spending in June rebounded to $7.4 million, just $15,664 below pre-pandemic retail spending in February.

The economic recovery plan is valued at $1.5 billion, part of more than $8 billion in COVID-related funding this year. There is also an additional $660 million in tax breaks, including $190 million to encourage hiring by employers to lower B.C.’s 10.7 per cent unemployment rate, and a $470 million PST rebate on business investments such as machinery and equipment that promotes business expansion.

The province already announced the $1.5 billion for economic recovery earlier this year, but Thursday’s (Sept. 16) announcement broke it down into four categories: recovery for people, recovery for communities, recovery for businesses and building better futures.

Recovery for people, which totals $469 million, includes $300 million set aside for up to 7,000 new jobs in health care, $20 million or supports for people with disabilities, $20 million for short-term skills training for in-demand jobs and $15 million for community skills training and education for Indigenous peoples. It also includes $45.6 million previously announced for school COVID-19 measures.

Recovery for businesses, which totals $405 million, is largely made up of $300 million in small and medium sized business recovery grant, which the province said will save 200,000 jobs. Another $50 million will be allocated to a tourism task force, which will determine where funds are most needed and allocate them before the end of the 2020/21 fiscal year.

Recovery for communities, which totals $375 million, has $100 million dedicated to a COVID-19 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, which will provide grants for “shovel ready” projects.

Finally, the building better futures segment of the funding, which totals $250 million, includes $25 million for food security programs such as expanding B.C.’s food production and processing and invasive species detection and removal. Another $223 million will go towards future-facing projects including $90 million to improve connectivity along major routes and in rural communities, as well as $35 million towards a Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy.

The last $7 million of the economic recovery plan is dedicated to capital costs, including construction in provincial parks and remote and rural road access, part of which will go to improving the road between Port Alberni and Bamfield on Vancouver Island.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronaviruseconomy

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

Just Posted

A monument was unveiled during a ceremony in Tofino last week honouring Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka. The monument will be placed on Hwy. 4 near Kennedy Lake. (Photo courtesy of Ambulance Paramedics and Emergency Dispatchers of BC)
Somber ceremony held in Tofino to mark 10th anniversary of fatal ambulance crash

Beloved paramedics Jo-Ann Fuller and Ivan Polivka died in a tragic ambulance crash on Hwy. 4.

New Bulldogs forward Oak MacLeod fires a shot on the Grizzlies’ goal during the first period of a preseason game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Tuesday, Oct. 27. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BCHL: New guys get game winner for Alberni Valley Bulldogs

Alberni records a 5-4 overtime win against the Victoria Grizzlies

From left to right: Mark Walter, BJ Gillis, Kyle Munro and Danny Gillis of the Alberni Valley Disc Golf Club stand beside a disc golf basket at Dry Creek Park. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Disc golf expands to Port Alberni’s Dry Creek Park

New 18-hole course will be ready to play by spring of 2021

A Trio of Roses (CYNTHIA BONESKY)
ARTS AROUND: Stop and smell the flowers at the Rollin Art Centre

Next exhibit features Port Alberni artists Cynthia Bonesky and Jan Vriesen

PanAmour, featuring some familiar Port Alberni faces, will perform online via Zoom Oct. 30, 2020 at Char’s Landing. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cure the blues with PanAmour at Char’s Landing

Tickets for virtual concert available online

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Commissioner Austin Cullen looks at documents before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
RCMP lacked dedicated team to investigate illegal activities at casino, inquiry hears

Hearings for the inquiry are set to continue into next week and the inquiry is expected to wrap up next year

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
Court approves money for B.C. foster children alleging harm from Kelowna social worker

The maximum combined total award for basic payments and elevated damages for an individual is $250,000

Most Read