FILE – Premier John Horgan is joined by Finance Minister Carole James during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. The British Columbia government is expected to reveal how it plans to stimulate an economic rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic today. Horgan and James are scheduled to release details of the $1.5-billion economic recovery plan this afternoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

The B.C. government is unveiling a host of measures meant to get the economy going, including a tax credit for employers who bring on more employees in the last few months of 2020.

The province’s economy has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down much of B.C. for several months this spring. Last week, Finance Minister Carole James said the province was projecting a $12.8 billion deficit for the fiscal year that ends in March 2021.

READ MORE: B.C. deficit forecast $12.8 billion after first three months of COVID-19

Although B.C.’s COVID-19 cases have been increasing in the past few weeks, with an average of more than 100 cases in recent days, the province is pushing ahead with economic recovery plans.

“COVID-19 changed not just our world, but the world,” Premier John Horgan said at a press briefing Thursday (Sept. 17).

“There is no playbook on how to handle a global pandemic.”

Between February and August, B.C. lost 33,900 jobs in wholesale and retail trade; 25,200 in information, culture and recreation; and 24,600 in construction, the only trades field to see a loss of jobs. However, not all industries lost jobs; utilities gained 6,700 thousand jobs; professional, scientific and technical services gained 5,500 jobs and agriculture gained 4,200 jobs.

Consumer spending saw a big dip in the spring of 2020, although monthly retail spending in June rebounded to $7.4 million, just $15,664 below pre-pandemic retail spending in February.

The economic recovery plan is valued at $1.5 billion, part of more than $8 billion in COVID-related funding this year. There is also an additional $660 million in tax breaks, including $190 million to encourage hiring by employers to lower B.C.’s 10.7 per cent unemployment rate, and a $470 million PST rebate on business investments such as machinery and equipment that promotes business expansion.

The province already announced the $1.5 billion for economic recovery earlier this year, but Thursday’s (Sept. 16) announcement broke it down into four categories: recovery for people, recovery for communities, recovery for businesses and building better futures.

Recovery for people, which totals $469 million, includes $300 million set aside for up to 7,000 new jobs in health care, $20 million or supports for people with disabilities, $20 million for short-term skills training for in-demand jobs and $15 million for community skills training and education for Indigenous peoples. It also includes $45.6 million previously announced for school COVID-19 measures.

Recovery for businesses, which totals $405 million, is largely made up of $300 million in small and medium sized business recovery grant, which the province said will save 200,000 jobs. Another $50 million will be allocated to a tourism task force, which will determine where funds are most needed and allocate them before the end of the 2020/21 fiscal year.

Recovery for communities, which totals $375 million, has $100 million dedicated to a COVID-19 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, which will provide grants for “shovel ready” projects.

Finally, the building better futures segment of the funding, which totals $250 million, includes $25 million for food security programs such as expanding B.C.’s food production and processing and invasive species detection and removal. Another $223 million will go towards future-facing projects including $90 million to improve connectivity along major routes and in rural communities, as well as $35 million towards a Centre for Innovation and Clean Energy.

The last $7 million of the economic recovery plan is dedicated to capital costs, including construction in provincial parks and remote and rural road access, part of which will go to improving the road between Port Alberni and Bamfield on Vancouver Island.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronaviruseconomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Matthew Campbell, director of the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank, stands amongst a large amount of non-perishable food and household items being stored inside the Pacific Community Church. This year’s ‘Halloween For Hunger’ food drive, put on by students at Clayton Heights, will go to benefit the Fraser Valley Regional Food Bank. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Clayton Heights Secondary kicks off annual ‘Halloween for Hunger’ event

Students to collect much-needed items for food bank

Left, Rowena Leivo early on in her volunteer career with the South Surrey/White Rock Food Bank. Right, Leivo in the food bank Tuesday. (Contributed photos)
After 34 years, ‘The Boss’ retires from South Surrey Food Bank volunteer gig

Rowena Leivo, 90, spent a third of her life volunteering at the food bank

Ali Watson in Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of “No Child…,” which plays until Nov. 8. (photo: Moonrider Productions)
Viewers of Arts Club’s streaming plays support Surrey Civic Theatres

Company’s ‘bubble method’ of theatre production means just 50 in-person tickets for each performance

John Horgan brought the NDP campaign to Langley on Wednesday, Oct. 21, just three days before the B.C. vote (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Horgan brings NDP campaign to Langley

Predicts gains, says people are looking at the party ‘differently’ after three years

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
OUR VIEW: Lenient courts aren’t helping

It’s hard to fault the palpable frustration of Metro Vancouver Transit Police

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read