British Columbia programs | COVID-19: Funding and financial relief programs for startups and small businesses

Canada Publication June 2020

A detailed table outlining the various programs available in British Columbia are listed below. If you would like to discuss your eligibility for any of these programs, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.

Tech Co-op Grants Program 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • Get up to $20,000 in funding to hire co-op students through the Tech Co-op Grants Program
  • To be eligible of the grant, your business must be based in BC and must have fewer than 500 employees

Innovate BC – BC Fast Pilot Program

Description Eligibility Application details
  • The B.C. Fast Pilot program provides up to $200,000 for regional SMEs to design, build and operate a pilot plant or small demonstration of their technology in real-world conditions
  • The program allows B.C. technology companies to demonstrate the impact of their product, measure the value of their solution, and encourage customer adoption
  • Be a B.C.-based business
  • Have less than 500 employees on payroll
  • Have developed a prototype and are ready to demonstrate the technology at a customer site.
  • Have an early adopter or potential customer 
  • The application deadline is May 28 2020

BC Women’s Enterprise Centre Loan Program

Description Eligibility Application details
  • Loans up to $150,000 for BC women, plus access to up to an additional $100K through our partnership with BDC
  • Loans for market-ready start-ups, business expansion projects and business purchases
  • Loans for leaseholds, equipment, operating capital and more
  • Flexible repayment options and terms up to 5 years
  • Lower security and equity requirements than many other lenders
  • You may qualify with us, even if you don’t with other lenders. For basic eligibility you must be: A woman who owns and controls at least 51% of a business that is registered and located in British Columbia, a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident, and residing in British Columbia
  • For more information and to apply, click here 

Innovator Skills Initiative 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • The Innovator Skills Initiative (ISI) provides up to $10,000 a year for B.C.-based companies to hire undergrad and graduate students
  • This program has also recently been updated so that both tech companies and non-tech organizations can benefit from it
  • The ISI grant can help you hire talent on a full or part-time basis. Whether you’re a non-tech company looking for a tech expert to develop your online presence or you’re a tech company that needs support with business operations, the ISI can help you

To be eligible, you are: 

  • A tech company or tech non-profit hiring for a business or tech role, or
  • A non-tech business or non-profit hiring for a tech role
  • Hiring a post-secondary student from an accredited institution in BC

To be eligible, your student: 

  • Is not a co-op student
  • Will be hired for a business or technical role
  • Is enrolled at an accredited post secondary institution in BC

Provincial Tax Changes 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • British Columbia is extending filing and payment deadlines for the following taxes until September 30, 2020:

    - Employer Health Tax

    - Sales Taxes  

    - Provincial sales tax (including municipal and regional district tax)

    - Carbon tax

    - Motor fuel tax and Tobacco tax

  • Carbon tax rates will remain at their current levels until further notice
  • School tax rates for commercial properties (Classes 4, 5 and 6) will be reduced by 50% for the 2020 tax year
  • On April 16, the school property tax was lowered again and classes 7 and 8 are now included. Overall, the commercial property tax bill for most businesses will be reduced by 25% on average
  • Late payment penalties for classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are postponed to October 1, 2020 
  • Your business files taxes in British Columbia
  • N/A

Worksafe BC 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • Q1 payments for 2020 have been postponed – businesses that report payroll and make payments on a quarterly basis can defer payments without penalty until June 30, 2020 
  • Employers who report payroll on an annual basis do not need to report their 2020 payroll or pay their 2020 premiums until March 2021 
  • Employers based in BC are eligible 
  • N/A

BC Hydro 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months (April to June 2020) 
  • Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months 
  • BC Hydro rates have been reduced by 1% e ective April 1, 2020 
  • BC Hydro customers are eligible 
  • N/A

Greenhouse Carbon Tax Relief Grants 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • Greenhouse operators can now apply for carbon tax relief grants for the 2020 production year, until May 1, 2020 
  • Commercial producers in B.C. who grow vegetables, ornamental flowers and plants, forest seedlings and nursery plants are eligible to apply for the grant if they: had sales exceeding $20,000 in 2019, used natural gas or propane to heat their greenhouses or produce carbon dioxide, and had a production area greater than 455 square metres
  • Cannabis is not an eligible crop at any phase of production  

To qualify to receive a 2020 GCTRG, an Applicant must have met all of the following criteria at the time of the application submission:

  • is a corporation, partnership or individual(s) operating a commercial greenhouse in British Columbia for the entire 2020 production year
  • is using natural gas or propane in the operation of their Eligible Production Area for heating or the production of CO2 for Eligible Crop fertilization, or both
  • had sales in 2019 exceeding $20,000 (for start-ups or new purchases, an operator anticipates sales exceeding $20,000 in 2019) from the production of Eligible Crops
  • has a minimum of 455 square metres (5,000 square feet) of Eligible Production Area
  • is using at least 75% of their total Eligible Production Area for the production of Eligible Crops
  • is producing an Eligible Crop
  • has completed and submitted the online survey by May 1, 2020
  • To submit an application, click here 

Contact for Support Service for Businesses 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • A new B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service will serve as a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • The service will act as a one-stop resource to answer questions about supports available to businesses from the provincial and federal governments, industry and community partners
  • Advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Pacific time) and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1 833 254-4357. Inquiries can also be emailed to, or raised on the live-chat feature available on SBBC’s dedicated website:
  • BC businesses are eligible 
  • N/A

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers 

Description Eligibility Application details
  • The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) is a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment for British Columbians whose ability to work has been a ected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Most people who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are also eligible for the BCEBW, including those who have run out of employment insurance (EI) benefits and subsequently qualify for the CERB 
  • To be eligible for the BCEBW, you must: have been a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020, meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB, have been approved for the CERB, even if you have not received a benefit yet, be at least 15 years old on the date of application, have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return, and not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance
  • Applications open on May 1, 2020 

Recent publications

Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest legal news, information and events...