Failing grant program weighed down by millions in administrative costs

While B.C. businesses continue to hang on by a thread through the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDP government has shoveled almost as much money into administrative costs for its failed grant program as it has actually doled out to struggling businesses.

VICTORIA (March 1, 2021) – While B.C. businesses continue to hang on by a thread through the COVID-19 pandemic, the NDP government has shoveled almost as much money into administrative costs for its failed grant program as it has actually doled out to struggling businesses.

A contract document shows the government has provided $31 million to Small Business BC to administer its Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant program, almost as much as the $45 million that has gone out to businesses. Before businesses can access recovery funding, they are required to develop a government-approved recovery plan with the help of a professional accountant. These fees are paid out of the $31 million contract.

“It’s outrageous that almost as much money has been spent on administrative red tape than giving businesses the money they need to keep their lights on,” said Todd Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We’ve heard about business owners forced to make payroll with their pensions and credit cards. It’s unacceptable that this money is tied up in accounting fees and red tape, instead of going directly to businesses most in need.”

The news is especially troubling given that businesses have made it clear they need help from government to survive. A February 2021 survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows 55 per cent of respondents in B.C. believe their business needs additional provincial support.

“The funds to help these businesses were approved by all parties a year ago, at the height of the pandemic, yet very few businesses are seeing any relief,” added Stone. “This revelation that the NDP has spent almost as much on administrative costs than actually helping people makes this an even bigger boondoggle. They need to extend the program deadline, streamline the application process, ease the restrictive eligibility criteria, and get the $300 million in grant money into the hands of businesses before it’s too late.”

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