It’s well known that small businesses located throughout Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and every other small community in the Cariboo are hurting drastically due to the pandemic. Most are hoping to survive long enough until vaccinations are completed by mid-summer.
Given the significant challenges that business owners have been suffering for the past year, you would think that our provincial government would be doing everything possible to help save small business – the very basis of our provincial economy.
The good news came in the form of an announcement that all three parties at the Legislature had agreed to put partisan politics aside, and work together in order to get our economy back on track.
Last September, small businesses welcomed the announcement that the provincial government would therefore set up a $300 million pandemic assistance fund. The package permitted grants up to $30,000. However, it came with a host of conditions, including businesses showing at least a 50 per cent revenue loss and a “viable path forward” to continue operations.
John Horgan and the NDP estimated the grants would “protect more than 200,000 jobs province-wide” including many in the tourism sector with an additional $10,000 grant top-up.
Unfortunately, the program was immediately put on hold and businesses were forced to wait when Horgan called a snap election last fall — right after making the $300 million announcement.
Six months later the small business community is still on hold, as this week it was revealed $31 million is being spent to administer this program, yet only $50 million has actually been distributed to businesses in need of assistance.
This is completely unacceptable, especially when all three parties set politics aside for the good of the province.
Lorne Doerkson is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.