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

A variety of art coming to Revelstoke gallery this fall

A members’ show in December will act as a gift market

Roots & Blues announces ticket giveaway ahead of online festival

The festival is streaming free online this year, but those who pre-register can win passes for 2021.

Molotov cocktails thrown at Revelstoke home in arson attempt

The flames were extinguished before they spread

Stay Revy launches despite pandemic

The new vacation rental management company works with legal vacation rentals

Revelstokian raises money for mental health

A Revelstoke local recently raised $2,600 for mental health services at Community… Continue reading

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Penticton man wakes to wildfire, forced to evacuate

A wildfire sparked off the side of Highway 97 near Penticton on Thursday

Anti-gang cops probe Kelowna’s street-level drug trade over B.C. Day long weekend

CFSEU’s Gang Enforcement Team was deployed to Kelowna last weekend

Man allegedly wielding knife at Kelowna Superstore arrested

The 29-year-old Kelowna man has been released on strict conditions for a future court date

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read