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

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

Just Posted

Pamela Franklin captured this picture of a raccoon in Maple Ridge, “chilling” in her backyard, on her storage bin. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Lounging in the spring sun

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Debbie Noseworthy snapped a sunset picture the first day of daylight savings as seen from the dikes off 216th Street in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Sky on fire over Maple Ridge dikes

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Darlene Martin captured this ‘breathtaking’ view of a sunset and the Fraser River as taken from Osprey Village. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View from Osprey Village breathtaking

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of April 11

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The Maple Ridge Community Foundation is hosting a trivia night fundraiser on Hit TV. (Special to The News)
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

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

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read