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

Interior Health is reporting a COVID-19 exposure at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley. Bulletin file.
COVID-19 case identified at Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley

Interior Health is conducting contact tracing

Cranbrook Arts will finally open the doors to their brand new gallery space on Friday, June 18th, 2021 at 4pm. To see what is behind these doors, be sure to check out the exhibit, Kootenay's Best, running until Labour Day weekend. (Cranbrook Arts file)
Cranbrook Arts’ inaugural exhibit, Kootenay’s Best, opens this Friday

The exhibit features over 50 Kootenay-based artists and will run until Labour Day Weekend

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League met for their AGM and announced a number of new initiatives, new awards and changes in their executive committee, as well as the starting date for the 2021-22 season. Paul Rodgers file.
KIJHL announces start dates for 2021-22 season

Season set to begin Oct. 1 with league still following all health guidelines

Calvin Dickson photo.
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for East Kootenay

Conditions favourable for the development of thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is looking into a Castlegar incident. File photo
Police watchdog investigating Castlegar incident

IIO: Woman sustained a reportedly self-inflicted injury

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read