VANCOUVER -- A new emergency order in B.C. will protect some small businesses from eviction, the province's finance minister announced Monday.

Last week, the federal government launched the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program for small businesses. The benefit provides rent relief for businesses experiencing financial hardship during the pandemic.

However, unless the landlord applies for the program, the business renting their space can't access that financial support. 

To address this gap, under an order issued under the Emergency Program Act by the B.C. government, businesses that are eligible for the federal benefit, but whose landlord hasn't applied for it, will be protected from eviction due to unpaid rent payments until the end of June.

"Many B.C. businesses are eager to ramp up," Finance Minister Carole James said Monday. "But we also know that many businesses have suffered serious losses as result of COVID-19."

While B.C.'s order is only in place until the end of June, James explained that's in line with the end date of the federal program. 

"This is planned to be in place as long as the federal program is in place," she said. "If the federal program's extended, this order allows us to extend it to the federal program."

James said she hopes this will encourage landlords to apply for the federal funding. 

"We're certainly putting the encouragement on businesses that haven't applied because of the pressure that small businesses are facing," she said. 

"We all know that small businesses are a large part of our economy here in British Columbia. We need them to be able to restart."

In March, B.C. announced its COVID-19 Action Plan. The action plan set aside a total of $5 billion to help residents and businesses during and after the coronavirus outbreak. 

Included in the stimulus package is $2.8 billion for people and services – including $1.1 billion in relief. The remaining $2.2 billion is earmarked for businesses and recovery. 

When the action plan was first outlined, the province also announced a $1,000 emergency benefit for residents whose work was impacted by the pandemic. When applications launched for that benefit at the start of last month, 16,389 people signed up for it in the first 45 minutes.

Virtual feedback for 2021 budget

James's announcement came the same day she announced that B.C. residents would have the chance to share ideas and priorities for the province's budget virtually. Consultations will take place through video and teleconference throughout June.

"While COVID-19 has affected every aspect of our lives, I know the incredible resiliency of British Columbians, the strength of our communities and our solid fiscal foundation will help us weather the storm," James said in a statement.

"We are in unprecedented times, but the steps we took in Budget 2020 to invest in the fundamentals will help B.C. recover from COVID-19 as we work together to build a new normal for ourselves and our economy."

The online survey is now open and the deadline for submissions is June 26 at 5 p.m.

Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government's YouTube page. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.