Province announces new COVID-19 supports for businesses, local governments

Province announces new COVID-19 supports for businesses, local governments
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The Province of BC has announced new relief for businesses and local governments to help fight the difficulties experienced during COVID-19.

The Province of British Columbia has announced new relief for businesses and local governments to help fight the difficulties experienced during COVID-19.

According to the BC Government, they will be reducing commercial property tax bills by an average of 25 percent, while introducing new measures to support local governments experiencing revenue shortfalls.

“We know that B.C. communities and businesses are suffering from the economic impacts of COVID-19,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “That is why our B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan is focused on the health and safety of British Columbians, direct support for people and businesses and economic recovery for our province. We are providing further support by making additional temporary property tax changes to provide provincewide relief for business and local governments to help weather the pandemic, continue to deliver the services people count on and be part of our province’s economic recovery.”

For businesses, non-profits and other organizations, the Province will be reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties to achieve an average of 25 percent reduction and totalling up to $700 million in relief.

“This enhances the 50 percent reduction to the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for classes 4, 5, and 6 as part of B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan,” added a statement in a press release made by the Province.

In addition, they will be postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct. 1, 2020.

As for local governments, the Province is addressing cash flow and revenue shortfalls by authorizing local governments to borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries.

They will also allow local governments to:

  • delay provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year to help with cash flow
  • Allow them to carry debt for an additional year.

According to the BC Government, these measures will provide local governments with the necessary resources to meet operational costs and required remittances to regional districts, hospital districts, TransLink and transit authorities, BC Assessment, the Municipal Finance Authority and other taxing authorities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having significant financial impacts on all levels of government. It’s going to take hard work from both municipalities and the provincial government, but working together we will get through this,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Many local governments have already shown leadership by taking steps to help people and businesses and maintain services, while addressing their finances. With these new measures, we are giving local governments new tools as a first step to ease their financial burdens and that of businesses in their communities now, and as we look to recovery in the months to come.”

The Union of B.C. Municipalities president, Maja Tait added, “UBCM will monitor the impact of these measures on the state of local governments’ finances, and work with the Province to ensure that local governments have the resources to sustain their communities.”

The newly announced economic relief will build on the $5 billion action plan that was announced last month to combat COVID-19.


Graham CoxGraham Cox

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