Follow this post for up-to-date information on government support offered through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last Updated April 28 at 3 p.m. PDT
- Government of BC's response to COVID-19.
- Government of Canada's response to COVID-19.
- Provincial State of Emergency: Extended through the end of the day on May 11, 2021.
- Canada-US Border remains closed to non-essential travel until May 21, 2021.
- Masks must be worn in indoor public places.
City of Kelowna:
- Recovery and Sustainability Grant Program: Will provide funding—between $5,000 to $10,000—to eligible non-profit organizations within the sport, event, and cultural sectors. Application intake closed on March 15, 2021.
- Click here for more information on the City of Kelowna's COVID-19 response.
City of West Kelowna:
Click here for information on the City of West Kelowna's COVID-19 response.
For Businesses and Services
On April 20, the Provincial Government released Budget 2021, A Stronger BC for Everyone. Here are some key points related to proposed funding for the tourism sector:
- $195M to continue the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program.
- $100M for tourism anchor attractions support.
- $20M for community destination development (e.g. trails and airport improvements).
- $83M (over three years) for BC Parks for expansions and improvements.
- $6M in capital improvement grants for arts infrastructure.
- The Tourism Task Force was assembled in September, as part of the Economic Recovery Plan, with $50 million allocated to facilitate their initial recommendations.
- In response to the Tourism Task Force's final report, presented in early December 2020, the provincial government announced it will be committing $100 million in dedicated relief funding for the tourism sector, which will be administered through the Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program (see below).
- They will also be allocating $5 million to Indigenous Tourism BC to administer relief grant funding targeted for Indigenous businesses.
For information on previous investments in tourism, click here.
- Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant:
- Hospitality and fitness businesses, as well as accommodations, that were affected by the March 30, 2021, PHO orders can apply for grants of up to $20,000. Applications are being accepted until June 4 or until the funds are fully dispersed.
- BC's Hub for Workplace Mental Health: The provincial government has created an online hub for employers and employees in the tourism, hospitality and community social services sectors to access a variety of mental health supports.
- Small- and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant:
- Supporting small- and medium-sized businesses with non-repayable grants of up to $30,000.
- An additional grant of up to $15,000 is available for eligible tourism-related businesses (increased from up to $10,000).
- Expanded eligibility includes:
- Businesses must show at least 30% revenue loss in any one month between March 2020 and when they apply.
- Businesses in operation for the last 18 months are eligible (reduced from 3 years in operation).
- Businesses that are seasonal or temporarily closed are now eligible.
- Requirement of having various remittance accounts has been removed and sole proprietors can now apply.
- The deadline to apply for the program has been extended from March 31 until August 31, 2021 (or until the program funding is fully distributed).
- BC Indigenous Tourism Recovery Fund: Provides non-repayable grants of up to $45,000 to Indigenous businesses impacted by COVID-19. Application deadline is April 23, 2021.
- BC Employer Training Grant Program: Applications for the first 2021/2022 intake of the C19 Impacted Worker Training Stream, part of the BC Employer Training Grant program, are now being accepted. This stream supports employers and individuals in those sectors hardest hit by COVID-19, with individuals receiving training and employers receiving reimbursement of eligible training costs. Review the program details, additional funding streams, and eligibility online.
- B.C. Increased Employment Incentive: One-time refundable tax credit for employers. Applications are now open and will be accepted until December 31, 2021.
- PST rebate on select machinery and equipment. Applications are being accepted until March 31, 2022.
- Launch Online Grant Program: The provincial government has invested an additional $30 million into the program. Expanded eligibility criteria provides grants of up to $7,500 to qualifying businesses to assist in covering eligible expenses (up to 75%) for the creation or improvement of an online shop or online booking system. Applications will be accepted until September 30, 2021, or until the program funds are fully dispersed.
- Go Electric Fleets Program: In support of the province's CleanBC goals, rebates are being offered for eligible businesses on the purchase and installation of Electric Vehicle charging stations. Applications are open until March 1, 2023.
- Deferment, delay or reduction of some provincial taxes, including municipal and regional district tax.
- Sector Support:
- Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
- An Emergency Program Act (EPA) order was put in place on December 22, 2020, placing a temporary cap on delivery and other service fees that can be charged to restaurants. The order will remain in place for three months after the state of emergency is lifted.
- Temporary wholesale pricing allowing liquor licensees (like restaurants, bars, and tourism operators) to purchase beer, wine, and spirits at reduced cost is now in place permanently.
- Liquor licensing changes
- Direct delivery: The temporary authorization for restaurants to deliver liquor with the purchase of a meal has been made permanent.
- Production of sanitizer: Breweries, distilleries, and wineries can manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer to sell or donate.
- Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
- Temporary Layoff Variance
- BC Recovery Benefit: $1,000 for eligible families and single parents. Applications are open until June 30, 2021.
- Job-protected Leave: Eligible workers who are impacted by COVID-19 can take unpaid, job-protected leave.
- Click here for full details on support for individuals and families.
On April 19, the Government of Canada released Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience. Here are a few key points related to spending for the tourism sector:
- $200M for major festivals
- $200M for community events, local festivals, etc.
- $100M for Destination Canada marketing campaigns
- $500M "Tourism Relief Fund" for tourism-related businesses
- $300M for Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport Sectors' recovery
- $2.4M to Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada
Additional points include an extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support, funding for a new Canada Recovery Hiring Program, and an aid package for Air Canada.
The full budget can be viewed on the Government of Canada website.
- Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): Provides interest-free funding for eligible small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). Twenty-five percent of the total funds are reserved for the tourism industry. Almost $710 million in funding has been allocated for Western Canada. Applications are open until June 30, 2021.
- In alignment with this fund, the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Resiliency Network has launched a micro loan program for tourism businesses in the Thompson Okanagan.
- Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP): Delivered through Business Development Bank of Canada (BCD), eligible businesses can access guaranteed, low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million. Businesses with multiple locations, like hotel and restaurant chains, may be able to access up to $6.25 million. Applications opened February 1 and will run through until June 30, 2021.
- Business Credit Availability Program:
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): As of December 4, will provide interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. Eligible businesses who received the $40,000 CEBA loan are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000. The deadline to apply for both loan options has been extended to June 30, 2021.
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy provides support until June 5, 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The program will subsidize a percentage of commercial rent or property expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses, starting September 27, 2020.
- Lockdown Support provides an extra 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has been extended through until June 5, 2021. CEWS is a subsidy to cover part of employee wages for eligible employers. The maximum subsidy rate will remain at 75%—click here for more information on subsidy rates and additional changes to the program.
- CanExport SMEs: Up to $75,000 in funding to assist small- and medium-sized companies grow within the international marketplace.
- Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF): Will provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.
For information on additional support for individual sectors, click here.
- Employment Insurance (EI) Program
- Canada Recovery Benefit: Provides a benefit amount of $1,000 ($900 after taxes) per two-week period, for up to 19 eligibility periods (total of 38 weeks) between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021. Click here for eligibility requirements.
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: Provides $500 ($450 after taxes) for each 1-week period, for up to 4 weeks, between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021. Click here for eligibility requirements.
- Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit: Provides $500 ($450 after taxes) per week per household, for up to 38 weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021. Click here for eligibility requirements.
Visit the following links for more information on additional supports available through Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan:
Have questions about the support available to businesses as it relates to COVID-19?
The Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) is part of the BC Tourism Resiliency Network and will be providing one-on-one support for tourism businesses in the Thompson Okanagan corridor who have questions about available government support related to COVID-19. Click here to learn more and to register for TOTA's resiliency program.