The B.C. government haseased the eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for funds under its $345-million pandemic recovery grant program.
The province has also extended the deadline for businesses to apply from the end of this month to Aug. 31, or until all the money has been spent.
Businesses with up to 149 employees must now show a 30 per cent drop in revenue in any one month between March 2020 and the time of application compared with the same time period during the year before.
The grant program previously required businesses to show a 70 per cent drop at some point during March or April last year, plus additional revenue losses of 30 to 50 per cent from May 2020 until their application.
Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says the province has been "nimble" with the program and the changes directly follow feedback from the business community.
The course of the pandemic is something no one anticipated & something we have not lived through before.— Ravi Kahlon (@KahlonRav) March 4, 2021
Over the last few months I have been working with businesses to ensure that our Business Recovery grant program adapts to the changes of the pandemic. 1/2
He says about $55 million has been distributed through the program so far and influx of applications hasn't slowed down, though he couldn't say how many more businesses may now apply given the latest changes.
"Certainly we have some businesses that have applied that weren't able to get the funding because they didn't meet (requirements), and now we'll be able to call them and tell them that in fact they do have funding available."
This is the second time the government has eased the program's eligibility requirements.
Businesses may apply for grants ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, with additional funds available to tourism-related businesses, which Kahlon says represent just over half of applicants to the program so far.
The province says businesses don't need to resubmit existing applications and those received previously will be reviewed under the new criteria.
In a statement, Liberal jobs critic Todd Stone urged the NDP government to eliminate the requirement that businesses must be at least 18 months old.
Kahlon says the rule stands and businesses that apply by the new deadline must have been operating since last March, "so essentially anyone that had a business when the pandemic started can apply for this grant."
B.C. is also offering up to $2,000 to be paid directly to professional service providers for businesses that need help creating a required recovery plan.