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B.C. eases requirements for struggling businesses applying for grant funding

Businesses along Fourth Avenue in downtown Prince George. (via Hanna Petersen, PrinceGeorgeMatters).

The B.C. government has loosened eligibility requirements for small and medium-sized businesses applying for grants to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ravi Kahlon, the minister of jobs and economic recovery, says businesses must show a revenue drop of 30 per cent instead of 50 per cent since March as part of the criteria to qualify for grants from $10,000 to $30,000.

He says tourism businesses will now be eligible for up to $45,000 in non-repayable grant funding, and the tourism minister will announce more supports for the sector on Tuesday (Dec. 22).

Kahlon says businesses previously had to be operating for three years in order to get funding, but that requirement has been reduced to 18 months.

He says that means businesses only need to have been in operation for nine months before the pandemic to apply for a grant.

Applications can now be made online, and businesses that already applied for the original recovery grant program that was introduced in October will be considered under the new criteria.

"To own a business during these uncertain times brings challenges that no one could ever have imagined." Kahlon said today (Dec. 21).

The government has also dropped the requirement for business to list some information in the application, including registration numbers for the GST, the provincial sales tax and WorkSafeBC, to make the process easier for businesses.

Businesses that are temporarily closed or seasonal are now also eligible for the grant program.

Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant Foodservices Association, says small and medium-sized employers have struggled to keep their doors open, adding that many of the sector's 193,000 employees are women aged 15 to 25.

The grant program is meant for businesses that employ between two and 149 residents of B.C.