As we approach one year of living with COVID-19 here in British Columbia, it feels like a lifetime ago that we were all able to hold our loved ones close and partake in the many events that make our community so unique.
For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the most trying time of our lives. As we have navigated these past months together, I have been impressed and hopeful in seeing the many ways we have worked to support each other, especially our most vulnerable.
Though some of you have been able to weather these difficult times, I hear stories from constituents often that are disheartening; many are struggling. For those who were struggling before the pandemic, their circumstances have only worsened.
As Dr. Bonnie Henry has said, “we are all in the same storm, but are in different boats.” As we weather this storm, we must continue to take care of each other, particularly those who may be in more perilous boats. That is what I have been working to do alongside our government, and I hope the various grants and benefits that we have made available will make a positive difference in your lives.
Small businesses, particularly those operating in the tourism sector, have long been a vital part of Victoria’s prosperity and character. Unfortunately, the pandemic has left many small businesses simply hanging on; they are wondering if they can continue and whether they can employ staff.
Proprietors have had to make difficult decisions to ensure their businesses remain viable, while employees have dealt with the anxiety of reduced working hours and a sense of uncertainty. Our government is working hard to ensure businesses not only survive but have what they need to transition into the post-pandemic economy.
On Dec. 18, The Ministry of Jobs and Economic Recovery streamlined the Small and Medium-Sized Business Grant Program. Local businesses can receive grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, while an additional $5,000 to $15,000 funding is available to eligible tourism-related companies. You can find more information at www.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/business-recovery-grant.
A crucial component of keeping local small businesses healthy is ensuring British Columbians have the support they need to survive while simultaneously powering the local economy. The BC Recovery Benefit is expected to help approximately 90 per cent of British Columbians, and this will generate revenue for businesses as well. Under this program, the government provides up to $1,000 for families, including single-parent families, as well as up to $500 for individuals. For more information and how to apply, please visit www.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit.
I hope these are of some help to you during these times. Should you need any further assistance with these or any other government program or body, please reach out to my office, which is now fully staffed and keen to assist my constituents. You can reach us at Murray.Rankin.MLA@leg.bc.ca or by phone at 250-472-8528. Please take care and stay safe.
Murray Rankin is MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head