Supporting small business is key to economic recovery in B.C.

Small business is key

By Greg Kyllo

Over the past few weeks, we have heard a great deal of talk about economic recovery and the government's re-opening plans in British Columbia. We can now confidently say that the transition into phase 2 of the government's re-start plan is well underway across the province. However, for all of this talk of recovery, the government has been taking little action to support small businesses through this transition period.

The government has made few support programs available, and the majority of those programs have not been structured in a way that will prove helpful to the businesses that have been most affected by the pandemic.

The Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program (CECRA) is a prime example of this, as it has been shown to be incredibly restrictive in its eligibility criteria. The joint federal-provincial program requires the participation of landlords and, already, my BC Liberal colleagues and I have heard from dozens of businesses that have landlords refusing to take part.

Limiting its impact even further, CECRA is only available to businesses who have seen a decrease in revenue of at least 70 per cent. There are thousands of businesses in B.C. who have seen less significant declines in revenue, and yet still will not be able to survive without government support.

Other relief measures, such as property and school tax deferrals are also unhelpful to the vast majority of businesses, and they will only benefit those who own property, as most small businesses in B.C. are tenants.

This is why BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson sent a letter to the Premier last week, calling on his government to take further and immediate actions to support economic recovery and get our small businesses back on their feet.

We are in a crucial period in the process of economic recovery and we need to see this government act fast to get real supports into the hands of our struggling businesses.

Only then will our communities truly be on the way to recovery.

Greg Kyllo is the BC Liberal MLA for Shuswap; he is the official opposition critic for BC Hydro and was appointed by the Legislature to the Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.

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