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

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

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

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Most Read