Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon applauded the provincial government’s move to expand the business relief program following COVID-related restrictions on indoor dining, recreational travel and fitness.
Jobs minister Ravi Kahlon announced on Monday, April 26, that the “circuit breaker” grant funding is now extended to other areas of the hospitality industry, including hotels, motels and certain AirBnB accommodations. These accommodation businesses must pledge to turn away out-of-region bookings as part of the travel restrictions handed down earlier this month.
Paddon said she was excited about the recent announcement that not only included more business categories affected by the circuit breaker but a significant increase in the available funding.
“I’m really glad the government has been so nimble,” Paddon said of the response. “These are different times, and they’ve been really agile in changing and adapting out of necessity.”
Paddon said in addition to the circuit breaker funding, the government has made grants available to small- and medium-sized businesses. Within Chilliwack-Kent, more than $1 million in aid has been delivered to 60 area businesses as of April 22.
Paddon said while there may be a variety of reasons some entrepreneurs hesitate in applying for circuit breaker or other government funding, she encourages business owners to apply anyway.
“I’ve heard both sides – some are really excited and apply right away and some don’t traditionally lean into these kind of things,” Paddon added. “These small and medium-sized businesses make up the heart of what makes communities work. When in doubt, just apply. It’s not at all a difficult process, and it’s all on the web page; very simple.”
Paddon has been impressed with the way the communities in the riding have rallied around each other to support small businesses and shop local wherever possible.
“I don’t minimize the struggles, but I think our community has a history of rallying around itself and each other,” she said. “I am hopeful.”
On a more personal level, over the course of April, Paddon has hosted gift card giveaways to support restaurants within the riding.
The circuit breaker grant application is available at www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/economic-recovery/relief-grant. It is on a first-come, first-served basis. It will be open until June 4 or until funding runs out. Businesses that have applied for or received the first round of circuit breaker grant funding do not need to apply again.
Paddon encouraged anyone having difficulty with the grant application or any COVID-related benefits to contact her office at 604-858-5299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– With files from Tom Fletcher