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Kelowna  

Chamber takes wait-and-see approach on new tourism subsidy

Uncertain over new subsidy

Two federal subsidy programs have ended for restaurants and other businesses hit hardest during the pandemic, and the question is: will the replacement program be enough to help those who need it in the Okanagan?

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) expired on Oct. 23, 2021.

However, the government also announced that it plans to spend $7.4 billion to extend and create new COVID-19 supports, including a new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and Hardest Hit Business Recovery Program.

Under the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, support would be targeted to organizations in selected sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry, like restaurants, hotels and tour operators that have been deeply affected since the outset of the pandemic and that continue to struggle, said a government news release.

To qualify they would have to meet two criteria: An average monthly revenue reduction of at least 40 percent over the first 13 qualifying periods for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (12-month revenue decline); and a current-month revenue loss of at least 40 percent.

The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program would be for those that don’t qualify for the tourism subsidy. They would need to prove an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 50 percent over the first 13 qualifying periods for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (12-month revenue decline); and a current-month revenue loss of at least 50 percent.

While business groups are welcoming the new programs, the thresholds to qualify are cause for concern.

Castanet reached out to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce to ask what it has been hearing from members.

“We haven’t heard a lot just yet as I think people are trying to absorb the changes. We have heard from a few in the hospitality sector that don’t think they would qualify given the 40% loss threshold but they haven’t even had time to review it as they are just trying to keep their doors open and manage the challenges associated with labour shortages and supply line issues,” said Dan Rogers, Chamber executive director in an email to Castanet.

The chamber is currently conducting a survey that might produce some specific insights but it won’t be completed for a couple of weeks.



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