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

Undated Google photo of Safeway (20871 Fraser Hwy.).
Safeway, FreshCo, Shoppers and three Langley schools record COVID-19 cases

Two COVID-positive staff reported at same Safeway within days

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:30 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash blocking left lane in Langley

Incident at 264th Street slowing morning commuters

Aldergrove legion branch #265. (Aldergrove Star files)
Final phase of $14 million federal support fund rolls out to legion branches

Branches still reeling from pandemic receive remaining $3.8 million in emergency funds

Italian flat leaf parsley can be used in pesto, replacing fresh basil. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but it can also be made with another fresh herb

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

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

Michael Bublé in video posted to Arts Club Theatre Company’s Youtube channel.
VIDEO: Arts Club alum Michael Bublé backs theatre company’s re-opening campaign

Pandemic has caused 15 months of suspended operations for Arts Club, founded in 1964

Football player Christian Covington in photo posted to twitter.com/Chargers.
Surrey-raised NFLer Covington charged up to join Los Angeles team

Christian Covington, son of CFL Hall-of-Famer Grover Covington, grew up in the Sullivan Heights area

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

(Pixabay)
B.C. doctors could face consequences for spreading COVID misinformation: college

College says doctors have a higher level of responsibility to not spread incorrect information

Most Read