B.C. businesses can now apply for a grant to help ease the financial impact of the latest COVID-19 wave, but many in the hospitality and fitness industries say the support is coming too late.
On Wednesday, Jobs and Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon held a news conference to say applications are open for the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant. The program was announced in December, just a few days after a provincial health order shut down gyms, fitness centres, nightclubs and bars.
Venues that can no longer hold events are also eligible for the $1,000 to $10,000 in support, as are businesses that offer online rentals or services but whose physical locations were closed.
Funds from the program, which is expected to support more than 3,000 businesses, can help with expenses such as rent, employee wages, insurance, maintenance and utilities.
“This is not the way any of us wanted to start the new year with more strain on our businesses, families and communities,” Kahlon said.
“Our government will be there to help hard-hit businesses that have had to shut down and get them some necessary support to help pay their bills.”
The province has set aside $10 million for the project, which supports recently expanded federal programs that provide up to 75-per-cent wage and rent support to businesses and $300 a week to eligible workers affected by public health orders.
The province is attempting to fast track the delivery of the benefit, but was unclear how long that will take.
Businesses who have refused to follow provincial health orders, and remain open, are not eligible.
“We have built in an auditing process for those businesses who have chosen not to follow the orders,” Kahlon said. “To those majority of businesses who have followed the orders, this grant is available for you.”
Eligibility requirements will depend on size and businesses with no employees or contracted staff are eligible for up to $1,000 ranging to businesses with 100 or more employees or contracted staff being eligible for up to $10,000.