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

.
ON COOKING: Chef offers a new take on pumpkin spice

Pumpkin puree can be used to make a salad dressing

Tristan Kennedy, and his mom Naya, proudly displaying their joke book - A Reason to Smile. (Special to THE NEWS)
Pitt Meadows boy turns funny quarantine pastime into joke book

Tristan Kennedy, 5, placed wisecrack signs at the end of his driveway for 155 straight days

The Citizen of the Year awards were held on Saturday, as a virtual event.
Citizens of the year for Maple Ridge named

Maple Ridge Community Foundation holds annual awards night

Phase three of Onni’s Golden Ears Business Park is before council Tuesday.
New look for Golden Ears Business Park in Pitt Meadows

Zoom webinar allows public to share thoughts with council on Tuesday

Jason Nagy, centre, and his foster parents Peggy and Robert Maikawa. (Jason Nagy/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge volunteer reunites with foster parents after three decades

Discovered his name on a list of volunteers for the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

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

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Most Read