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

Pandemic reunites 2000s era Victoria rock band The Origin

Saanich musicians recording for first time since 2008

Local authors nominated for Victoria Book Prize awards

Finalists for 2020 announced in two categories

Patrick brothers who shaped modern hockey also tried, but failed, to remove violence

New history thesis shows efforts to sell a “clean game” in Oak Bay

Central Saanich to formally inform Agricultural Land Commission about soccer pitch proposal

Move is meant for information only with no application having come forward yet

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Body discovered floating in water near Lasqueti Island

JRCC reports personnel aboard fishing vessel made the find

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read