British Columbia

Agri-food, retailers top poll of businesses British Columbians would bail out

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, British Columbians have shared their thoughts on which businesses and organizations should get a bailout to help them survive the economic fallout. 

Professional sports, ride-hailing and entertainment are lowest priority, according to poll

A worker cleans a window at an Old Navy outlet in Vancouver during the store's reopening in late May. A poll suggests the majority of British Columbians would support a bailout for retail stores. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, British Columbians have shared their thoughts on which businesses and organizations should get a bailout to help them survive the economic fallout. 

Agri-food businesses, municipalities and retailers topped the list of organizations and industries that people in B.C. feel should get financial assistance to keep from failing or going bankrupt, according to a new poll from Research Co. 

According to the poll, 73 per cent of British Columbians would definitely or probably support a bailout for agri-food companies, 70 per cent felt the same way about municipalities, and 67 per cent for retailers.

On the other end of the spectrum, only 34 per cent of British Columbians would definitely or probably support a bailout for professional sports leagues, and only 39 per cent would support ride-hailing companies. Film and entertainment companies got 45 per cent support.

The results of the poll are based on an online study conducted from June 5 to June 7, 2020, among 800 adults in B.C. A comparable margin of error for a random probability survey with this sample size is +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

B.C. has lost more than 353,000 jobs since the pandemic began. Statistics Canada data shows the provincial unemployment rate rose to 13.4 per cent in May. 

Across Canada, the economy shrank at an 8.2 per cent annual pace in the first three months of 2020. 

Not as many British Columbians said they would support a bailout for the film and entertainment sector.

The federal government has already been providing some support for some businesses.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program offers subsidies from the federal and provincial and territorial governments to help reduce a business tenant's rent by up to 75 per cent for April, May and/or June, provided the property owner forgives a share of the rent and agrees not to evict the tenant for the three months it covers.

And the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) extends interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to eligible small businesses and non-profit organizations. A quarter of the value of these loans (up to $10,000) is forgivable if the balance is repaid by December 31, 2022.

The federal government also announced it share the cost of a $42-million program to help farmers and ranchers in Alberta deal with a backlog of cattle waiting to be processed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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