New funding for B.C. businesses affected by COVID-19 rules

Ravi Kahlon listens as Premier John Horgan speaks to supporters during an election campaign stop in Surrey, B.C., on Monday May 8, 2017, in this file image. Kahlon, now the minister for economic recovery, says the pandemic has been particularly hard on small businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VICTORIA - New funding will be available to businesses in British Columbia affected by the latest measures to fight the spread of COVID-19, but the economic recovery minister says those who break the health orders need not apply.

The B.C. government has established a $50-million fund for about 14,000 businesses, such as restaurants, bars and breweries, that have been affected by the provincial health officer's orders, which end April 19.

Businesses are eligible for up to $10,000 in a one-time payment to cover expenses like perishables, rent or employee wages.

Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon says the pandemic has been particularly hard on small businesses.

But Kahlon says businesses that refuse to follow the provincial health orders or had their business licences pulled are not eligible for the funding.

Applications for the relief funding open next week.

The latest health orders announced March 29 include stopping indoor dining at restaurants, bars and pubs.

Kahlon criticized those that haven't followed the health orders.

"I'm overwhelmingly disgusted by these handful of businesses," he said. "We are not going to be supporting that behaviour."

Bridgitte Anderson, president of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, said many businesses "were shaken by the sudden order to close or stop in-person services."

In a statement, she said the additional support is welcome.

"Moving forward, should the B.C. government consider additional measures or new restrictions, we encourage them to work closely with the business community and ensure clear criteria are established so businesses have the opportunity to plan ahead and understand how they will be impacted."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2021.

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