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

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kierry Bui. The family says they are relieved the trial process has come to close Monday morning with Tenessa Nikirk found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sentencing begins for Peninsula woman convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Victoria police are looking for high-risk offender Douglas McPherson. (Courtesy of VicPD)
High-risk parolee with history of bank robbery believed to be in Victoria

Police ask for public’s help locating 64-year-old parolee

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest suspect in Saanich liquor store break and enters

Windowpane removal key component in string of thefts

A development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town would include 274 rental units. (Rendering by Integra Architecture)
274-unit rental development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town

Project would take take over block with tire shop, parking lots

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

A view from the deck of a home in SookePoint. The property is a prize in the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery. Tickets are on sale now. (Contributed photo)
Millionaire Lottery home up for grabs in Sooke

Sooke prize home part of latest VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at Vancouver Island location

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Most Read