COVID-19: Support Grants for BC Small & Medium Businesses

To navigate the financial setbacks and challenges created by the pandemic, the BC government has launched several relief programs for small and medium businesses: 

1. The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant Program

The Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program offers fully funded grants to businesses in British Columbia. These funds are meant to support businesses during and after COVID-19.

Initially available until March 31, 2021, this program has now been extended to August 31, 2021, or until all funds are utilized — whichever comes first.

What funds can businesses receive under this grant?

Small and medium-sized BC businesses affected by COVID-19 can receive grants of $10,000 to $30,000. Eligible tourism-related businesses can access an extra $5,000 to $15,000 grant.

As of March 4, 2021, the program eligibility criteria has been updated. Now, businesses only need to show a 30% revenue loss from March 2020 to now when compared to the same one-month period in 2019.

If you applied to the program before March 4, 2021, you don't need to resubmit an application. Your application will be reviewed under updated criteria. If your business has already been approved for funding, you won't be affected by these changes.

How does the program work?

Step 1: Start your online application

BC Businesses will need to fill out an online application and upload financial documents. If your business is eligible, you will be asked to create a recovery plan.

Step 2: Complete your recovery plan

A recovery plan lists the specific actions your business can take to support continued operation under the “new normal” conditions of COVID-19. It must be realistic and easy to execute.

Your recovery plan must also clarify the timeframe for the action to be completed and how much each action will cost.

If your application meets the eligibility criteria, you will have two options to complete your recovery plan:

  • Access professional services assigned by Small Business BC to develop your recovery plan
  • Prepare your recovery plan with support from your own service provider as needed. Your own service provider must register with Small Business BC at:

If your recovery plan is approved after evaluation, grant funding will be provided.

What’s the eligibility criteria for the grant program?

A business must meet all eligibility criteria to receive a base grant:

  • The majority share of the business is owned by one or more BC residents
  • The business has been operating in BC for a minimum of 18 months as of the date of application to the program.
  • The business’s sole or primary operations are located and conducted in British Columbia
  • The business is registered in BC. It is current and pays taxes in BC.
  • The business is currently operating. (Seasonal or temporarily closed businesses are also eligible.)
  • The business employs up to 149 people in BC for at least four months of the calendar year.
  • This includes businesses that had employees or contracted staff prior to February 1, 2020
  • For businesses that do not have staff, please explain in your application how the grant funding will support your recovery and benefit your community
  • The business had positive cash flow for the last financial statement, prior to February 1, 2020
  • The business had at least a 30% revenue loss from March 2020 to present when compared to the same one-month period in 2019.
  • The business’s ownership has not prepared the business for closure, dissolution or for sale following February 1, 2020

Not-for-profit organizations are not eligible.

What about tourism-related businesses? 

Tourism-related businesses in BC are eligible to get up to $15,000 in additional funding if they are eligible for the base grant and meet the tourism grant top-up criteria.

The tourism grant top-up is based on the number of BC resident workers employed or contracted:

Number of pre-COVID BC residents employed    Grant top-up amount
0 to 1    $5,000
2 to 4   $10,000
5 to 149  $15,000

What’s the eligibility criteria for the tourism grant top-up?

To receive the tourism grant top-up, a business must declare that a major part of its total goods or services are purchased by visitors.

Tourism sector businesses can include:

  • Transportation
  • Accommodation
  • Food and beverage services
  • Recreation
  • Entertainment services
  • Travel services

Accommodation includes:

  • Hotels
  • Inns
  • Lodges
  • Campsites
  • Recreational vehicle rentals
  • Other similar businesses

Accommodation excludes:

  • Long-term stays
  • Apartments
  • Condominium sub-leases
  • Home-stay arrangements
  • Vacation rentals  

In what cases may a business have to pay back the funding?

A business will need to pay back the funding if:

  • Any of the information submitted is untrue
  • They do not implement their recovery plan or
  • They use the funds for purposes not eligible under the program

Are there any restrictions on how I may use these funds?

The grant funding can be used to carry out the actions listed in your recovery plan. For instance, a business may propose to offer new services to customers, modify physical location, move online, or install new outdoor patio with social distancing barriers.

Funds can be used to support fixed costs such as rent/lease or other overhead costs.

Actions that a business implemented prior to the StrongerBC announcement on September 17, 2020 are not eligible for funding.

2. Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant

Hospitality and fitness businesses affected by the March 30, 2021, Provincial Health Officer orders can avail of grants of $1,000 to $10,000 under this program.

All hospitality and fitness businesses that closed (partially or fully) due to the PHO orders on a) gathering and events, and b) food and liquor serving premises are eligible.

Grants are available until June 4, 2021, or until funds are fully expended, whichever comes first.

Please note that a business must have been in operation as of February 1, 2021 to be eligible.

How is the grant amount decided?

The amount is based on the number of your BC employees or contracted staff. You do not have to pay back the grant. 

Number of BC employees or contracted staff Grant amount
None $1,000
1 to 4    $2,000
5 to 99  $5,000
100+ $10,000

Are there any restrictions on how I may use these funds?

You may use the grant for costs such as rent and utilities, insurance, maintenance and cost of perishable food loss.

What documents do I need to apply?

You'll have to confirm the following when you apply:

  • Your business was impacted by the March 30, 2021, PHO orders
  • You are registered as a BC business
  • You can prove majority ownership and operations in BC
  • You pay taxes in BC

You must also upload one of the following documents:

  • 2019- or 2020-income tax notice of assessment
  • Business licence
  • Liquor licence
  • Insurance policy
  • Lease agreement

3. Launch Online Grant Program

The Launch Online Grant Program will provide up to 75% of eligible expenses to help BC-based businesses set up an online shop or an online booking system and/or improve their existing online operations to reach out to new local customers. Eligible businesses can receive up to a maximum of $7,500.

The grant must be used to hire a BC-based company for the online store or online booking system development.

Up to 30% of funds will be reserved for Black, Indigenous and people of color owned businesses, and businesses operating outside of the lower mainland and greater Victoria.

The program is open for applications until September 30, 2021 or until the funds have been fully allotted. Funding will be awarded on a first-come first-serve basis to small and medium BC businesses.

How do I apply to this program?

The program application has three steps:

Step 1:

Prepare a grant proposal explaining how you'd use the funds. Businesses need to show a cost estimate that includes how much funding you need and how the money will be spent.

Step 2:

Complete the online application proving you meet the eligibility criteria. Submit your grant proposal.

Step 3:

Applicants will be contacted within three weeks and informed whether their application has been approved.

Read more on the eligibility criteria and eligible expenses here.

Need support navigating business issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.

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