Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. tourism calls for ‘bridge’ relief to recover from COVID-19

Task force asks province for $95 million emergency fund

As politicians argued over long-delayed B.C. government pandemic assistance for tourism and small business, a tourism task force released its recommendations earlier than planned in hopes of saving businesses that may not make it into 2021.

The report calls for the province to double the current $50 million emergency funding, with an additional $5 million to Indigenous Tourism B.C. and $95 million in emergency aid targeted to tourism businesses.

“People want to come here, and they will return once this pandemic is over,” Tamara Vrooman, Vancouver airport CEO and chair of the task force, wrote in the report, released Dec. 10. “We are a strong industry but right now, we need an emergency funding bridge to keep businesses open and the workforce employed until demand returns.”

In the legislature, newly appointed Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon and Tourism Minister Melanie Mark were under fire from opposition MLAs, reminding the NDP government that $1.5 billion in business assistance was approved by all parties last March.

RELATED: Latest travel restrictions another blow to tourism

RELATED: B.C. tourism industry pleads for assistance in July

B.C. Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone noted the snap election in October added to delays, and called the restrictive application process for small business a “red tape disaster.” Businesses have to show they lost at least 50 per cent of their revenue every month of the COVID-19 restrictions, and 1,400 business owners who have applied still don’t know when they will receive help, he said.

“They’re not sure they’re going to make it to the other side of Christmas,” Stone said.

Kahlon said he is still in briefings with ministry staff, and work is underway to make the small business and tourism aid more accessible.

Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said she received the task force report on Monday, and is working through the recommendations.

B.C. Liberal interim leader Shirley Bond called on the government to act quickly on an opposition bill that would cap restaurant delivery fees for services such as Skip the Dishes and Doordash at 30 per cent of the cost of the order. Trevor Halford, the new MLA for Surrey-White Rock, tabled the bill Dec. 10, following up on election promises made by both his party and the NDP to help small businesses restricted by COVID-19 public health orders.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second-floor balcony continues to smoulder after a fire extinguisher was used to get a small balcony fire under control at the Washington Inn Apartments. Brian Hayward, who lives on the third floor, was alerted to the fire by the smell of smoke wafting into his apartment. Photo by Brian Hayward.
Courtenay firefighters respond to balcony fire at Washington Inn Apartments

Firefighters were called out to the Washington Inn Apartments Sunday, April 17,… Continue reading

RCMP forensics investigators scour the site north of Highland School in Comox, where multiple people were stabbed during a party Saturday night, April 16. Photo by Terry Farrell
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Most Read