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

Survivors of abuse at Indian day schools could use help accessing compensation, advocate says

Class-action against federal government now settled but application form to claim funds is rigorous

Black bear spotted at Christy Park in Terrace

Bear could be the same individual spotted on the bench recently

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Signs of the times: Terrace sign makers’ businesses evolve during COVID-19 pandemic

Scaife Signs and Silvertip Promotions & Signs Inc. created COVID-19 related materials in Terrace

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic high-water levels that halted migration runs

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read