The B.C. government is extending the deadline and lowering the revenue loss threshold for small and medium-sized businesses to apply for a recovery grant that has been undersubscribed.
One year ago, the John Horgan government announced a $345 million grant for small and medium-sized businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The deadline to apply was set at March 31, 2021.
But according to Teresa Wat, Liberal opposition critic for Tourism, few businesses have even applied for the grant. She said only about 2% of businesses in the tourism sector – the sector hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions – had applied for the grant.
“Now, as we are fast approaching the deadline, this government has distributed a mere $21 million of the $300 million in grant funds,” she said March 1 in the BC Legislature.
That's less than the government has spent on administering the program -- $31 million -- according to the Liberal opposition.
According to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT), the bar for eligibility -- a 70% loss in business revenue -- was too high.
“Since this program was first announced our members have had difficulty accessing the program and meeting the eligibility criteria,” GVBOT president Bridgitte Anderson said in a press release that welcomed the news the grant eligibility criteria is being changed.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for small businesses who continue to face challenges brought on by the pandemic.”
The BC government is extending the deadline to apply to August 31, and is lowering the eligibility requirements. Originally, a business had to demonstrate a 70% loss in revenue to apply for the grant. That has been lowered to 30%.
“The previous requirement for a business to have experienced at least a 70% revenue loss at some point in March or April 2020 has been adjusted,” the government explains in a news release. “Now, a business is required to demonstrate only a 30% revenue loss in any one month between March 2020 to the point of application.”
The cutoff point for eligibility is 150 employees. The grant is available to B.C. businesses that employ up to 149 workers. Businesses applying for the grant must submit a business recovery plan.
The size of the grants ranges from $10,000 to a maximum of $30,000. Tourism-related businesses are eligible for an additional $5,000 to $15,000.
To apply, businesses can call 1 833 254-4357 or email: BusinessRecoveryGrantProgram@gov.bc.ca.