B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. calls for public input into COVID-19 business recovery

In-province travel decision expected next week

The B.C. government is preparing to allocate the $1.5 billion fund for business recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and has launched a six-week public consultation on how to do it.

Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced the online consultation June 17, emphasizing that those hardest hit by three months of pandemic restrictions are young people and women.

James said the COVID-19 crisis is different from previous recessions like the 2008 market meltdown that affected financial services and real estate. Now it’s services like accommodation and restaurants, which have suffered 90 per cent of the business closures, with women accounting for 60 per cent of the job losses.

“The youth unemployment rate is a staggering 29 per cent,” James said.

Travel restrictions have hit tourism businesses the hardest. Horgan said he and the cabinet are waiting for the latest pandemic modelling from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry on June 22 before making a decision on opening non-essential travel within B.C.

With COVID-19 case numbers remaining low in recent weeks, Horgan said he’s looking at his own vacation options. On Wednesday (June 17), the province recorded 19 new cases and no new deaths.

READ MORE: Top doctor urges caution as B.C. records 19 new COVID-19 cases

The survey remains open until July 21, by which time the B.C. legislature will be halfway through a rare summer session to deal with a provincial budget blown open by the $5 billion provincial emergency fund that includes the recovery fund as well as direct supports to people. Provincial revenues have nose-dived, with more than 300,000 tax-paying jobs lost since February, and the province has delayed business tax payments and a scheduled increase in carbon tax that was due in April.

Horgan declined to say if the province’s rent subsidy that is due to expire at the end of June will be extended, saying it may not be the same program that exists today.

James said enhanced benefits are on the table, as well as needs such as child care, skills training, and support for technology development to rebuild the B.C. economy.

RELATED: Fraud reports jump in April with pandemic scams

RELATED: B.C. seafood exports hit by Chinese false alarm

In its latest forecast June 16, the Business Council of B.C. estimates that B.C.’s gross domestic product will shrink by almost eight per cent in 2020. Jock Finlayson, BCBC’s chief policy officer, notes that the province recognizes 517,100 businesses, and 315,000 of them are self-employed individuals with no paid staff. The vast majority of the rest have nine employees or fewer.

“Looking ahead, we suspect that a significant number of B.C. business that existed when the year began will be gone by the end of 2021,” Finlayson said in a commentary.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Local businesses feeling the effects of COVID-19

Some have adjusted their business models; others won’t suvive another year if COVID continues in 2021

Iskwew Air brings some love to Bella Coola

The Indigenous, female-owned airline touched down in Bella Coola on Sept. 29

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Nuxalk Radio film wins big at Vancouver International Film Festival

The film won the Sea to Sky award, a $20,000 cash prize awarded by Telus

No plans to discontinue bus service, says Pacific Coastal

The company will continue to provide transfers to Anahim Lake on weather days

Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Phyllis Webstad and Joan Sorley worked on the 156-page book to help educate students

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

B.C. VOTES 2020: Businesses now owe $6 billion in deferred tax payments

COVID-19 relief from remittance to province ends with September

VIDEO: Smithers friendship centre launches canoe to mark Orange Shirt Day

Residential School survivor feels honoured by events held to recognize hardships endured

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Long-term care study credits fewer COVID deaths in B.C. than Ont. to funding, policy

The study was published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Metis pilot Teara Fraser profiled in new DC Comics graphic novel of women heroes

The Canadian pilot’s entry is titled: ‘Teara Fraser: Helping Others Soar’

Growing food sovereignty at Klemtu

Greenhouse and grow boxes help create circular food economy for Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations

Most Read