B.C. eases requirements for struggling businesses applying for grant funding amid COVID-19

B.C. eases requirements for struggling businesses applying for grant funding amid COVID-19
CHEK News/File

British Columbia government has loosened eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for grant funding to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says businesses must show a revenue drop of 30 per cent instead of 50 per cent since March as part of the criteria to qualify for grants from $10,000 to $30,000.

“We know that small businesses are struggling as they contend with the challenges of operating during a global health pandemic,” said Kahlon, “While many businesses have benefited from our government’s supports and programs, we wanted to do more.”

Additionally, the minister says that the previous three-year operation requirement has been reduced to 18 months. This means businesses only need to have been in operation nine months before the pandemic to apply for the grant.

Kahlon notes that tourism businesses will now be eligible for up to $45,000 in non-repayable grant funding, and the tourism minister will announce more supports for the sector on Tuesday.

Applications can now be made online, and businesses that already applied for the original recovery grant program that was introduced in October will be considered under the new criteria.

“To own a business during these uncertain times brings challenges that no one could ever have imagined,” Kahlon said on Monday.

The government has also dropped the requirement for businesses to list some information in the application, including registration numbers for the GST, the provincial sales tax and WorkSafeBC, to make the process easier for businesses.

Businesses that are temporarily closed or seasonal are now also eligible for the grant program.

Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant Foodservices Association, says small and medium-sized employers have struggled to keep their doors open, adding that many of the sector’s 193,000 employees are women aged 15 to 25.

“B.C. restaurants need the support of government to get through the significant impacts of COVID-19 on our industry,” said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “Helping business owners pivot and get through this tough time is essential. We are grateful for the revisions to the grant program and the support it offers to businesses facing financial pressures.”

According to the government, the revised application process and eligibility criteria are now in place. Small-to-medium sized businesses are being encouraged by the government to apply for a grant online. 

The grant program is meant for businesses that employ between two and 149 residents of B.C.

With files to Canadian Press.

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