British Columbia

B.C. announces grants up to $10K for businesses shut down by pandemic measures

B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth provided an update Thursday on B.C.'s COVID-19 relief supports for businesses and an update on winter weather preparations.

Province will begin accepting applications for the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant in January

B.C. health officials announced a shutdown of bars, gyms, nightclubs and all organized indoor gatherings until Jan. 18. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The B.C. government says businesses affected by the latest pandemic restrictions and closures will be eligible to apply for relief grants up to $10,000.

Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon announced the province will begin accepting applications for the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant in January.

The one-time funding grant is meant to help businesses that were ordered to shut down this week until Jan. 18, including gyms, fitness centres, bars, nightclubs and event venues that can no longer hold events.

Kahlon says grants between $1,000 and $10,000 will be administered based on the number of employees at each business. They can be used to pay for wages, rent, maintenance and utilities costs.

"Since the outset of the pandemic, our government has said it will be there for businesses and people," said Kahlon.

He added the provincial grant is meant to complement federal aid announced earlier this week including the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program.

The B.C. COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant is estimated to cost the province $10 million.

Omicron cases surge in B.C.

Health officials announced more public health restrictions in B.C on Tuesday., including a shutdown of bars and nightclubs, as well as plans to cancel scheduled surgeries as the Omicron variant spreads across the province.

On Wednesday, the province recorded the highest one-day total for new cases to date with 1,528 new cases of COVID-19 across the province.

Extreme weather preparations

At Thursday's press conference, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth also spoke about preparations for the extreme winter weather forecast to hit the province early next week.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, a series of strong storms will clash with cold Arctic air, likely bringing periods of heavy and blowing snow, freezing rain and frigid temperatures to many parts of B.C. until Jan. 1.

Farnworth says the province is opening 25 per cent more shelter spaces than it did last year.

The province says all shelters, including extreme-weather response shelters, are open throughout B.C. to make sure people experiencing homelessness have a warm place to sleep and can get out of the cold and rain.

The minister also reminded British Columbians to take individual precautions to stay safe, including checking the forecast and road closures and preparing emergency kits in case of power outages.

"It is vital that all of us step up to prepare and do what is necessary to protect themselves, friends and neighbours," said Farnworth. "Bring food, water and warm clothes and blankets when travelling by car."

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