B.C. has delivered just $10M in grants to struggling businesses so far, minister says
VANCOUVER -- Of the $300 million in grants B.C. earmarked for small and medium-sized businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, only $10 million has been delivered so far.
That's according to Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, who suggested this week that $65 million had already been paid out to business owners. He offered a correction on Friday.
"We had over 5,000 applications come in. That translates to $65 million, as we said. The only addition is $10 million of that has actually gone out to businesses," Kahlon said.
The other $55 million has yet to reach those who applied to B.C.'s Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program.
The majority of the hundreds of millions put aside for grants remains untouched. Some businesses said applying early on in the program was difficult and complex, including Ian McPhee of Prince of Whales Whale Watching.
"The money they're prepared to give you is predicated on you providing a recovery plan, when most of us are just in survival mode," McPhee told CTV News this week.
McPhee said he applied back in October, and only received funding last week.
The province has already responded to frustration among business owners by making the grants easier to apply for in December.
On Wednesday, Kahlon touted the program as one of the biggest and most comprehensive in all of Canada, but admitted there may be a lack of awareness among business owners.
"I think that was our challenge early on – people didn't know they didn't have to pay it back," the minister said.
The program offers grants of up to $30,000 to small and medium-sized businesses, while tourism companies are able to receive an extra $5,000 to $15,000.
It's scheduled to run until March 31 of this year, or until the funds are fully allocated.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan and Scott Hurst