Debate between Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone and Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravinder Kahlon during Question Period in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020.
T. Stone: The NDP promised that it would put small businesses at the front of B.C.’s economic recovery, and that simply hasn’t happened. The only thing that the small business community has seen from the NDP thus far, in terms of help, has been a single economic recovery grant program, which very few are applying for, because very few are eligible for. It’s a red-tape disaster.
Now, if we want confirmation on this, Mr. Speaker, you just have to look at the numbers. The Minister of Jobs has thrown out the number of 1,400 businesses that are in the process of applying for the small and medium-sized business recovery grant. That’s of an estimated 15,000 businesses that the government projected would be eligible for this benefit.
Now, I’ve asked these questions multiple times last week and this week. I asked them in supplementary estimates yesterday. I’ve asked them in question period. The member for Saanich North and the Islands has asked questions. We’re looking for detail.
So I’m going to ask one more time. A question to the Premier would be this. Of the $300 million that’s in this grant program, exactly how many dollars have actually been allocated to those that are in the process of applying for this funding? I’d like the government to answer that in detail today.
Hon. R. Kahlon: There are a couple of….
Mr. Speaker: Continue, Minister.
Hon. R. Kahlon: Thank you, hon. Speaker. The member wants to know how much money is allocated, and I’m going to tell the member; $300 million has been allocated.
The member also fails to acknowledge that we have one of the most comprehensive recovery plans in all of Canada.
Mr. Speaker: Members, let’s listen to the answer, please. There’s no point in asking questions if he can’t get the answer.
Hon. R. Kahlon: We have one of the most comprehensive plans across the country, Hon. Speaker, one of the most comprehensive plans across the country –– $470 million in PST rebates. The member failed to mention that in his remarks. And $300 million, of course, he mentioned, $190 million in tax credits for businesses that want to either hire someone new or bring employees back.
We know many sectors face different challenges. We know that the restaurant sector faces significant challenges. We accelerated permits so that they can allow more people to have patio space during the summer. We brought in wholesale prices for them so that they could see savings on liquor pricing.
This is not to even mention….
Mr. Speaker: Members, please.
Carry on, Minister.
Hon. R. Kahlon: That’s not even mentioning all the supports that the federal government has put in place as well, hon. Member. So I would say that the stats were clear, and the Minister of Finance confirmed it today. Ninety-five percent of jobs that we lost pre-COVID have come back. We know, with the new COVID restrictions, that there are going to be some significant challenges for businesses over the holidays. We’re going to continue to work with them to ensure that we make this program as accessible as possible so that as many businesses as possible can get the supports they need. That’s our goal. We want to support as many businesses and people through this difficult time in this pandemic.
Source: BC Hansard