Relief promised for restaurant industry – will it help?

photo of busy restaurant in downtown Victoria, B.C.
Downtown Victoria, B.C. Photo by Jo-Ann Loro.

The B.C. government announced on April 8th that it will provide more than $50 million to help the 14,000 restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, gyms and fitness centres affected by the March 30, 2021, provincial health orders.

The new Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant will provide affected businesses with up to $10,000 in one-time funding to help with expenses like rent, insurance, employee wages, maintenance and utilities. The grant can also help cover unexpected costs that resulted from the restrictions, such as the purchase of perishable goods.

While the grant offers support to many, it offers little benefit to those businesses who didn’t qualify for federal support to begin with.

“This will help a lot of businesses for sure; being a grant the government is finally understanding loans are not the answer. Whilst we are extremely grateful, new businesses like ours with no federal support, it’s a drop in the ocean. With our overhead of $45,000 per month on rent and wages, 10k will cover us for a bit over a week, ” says Peter Wood, owner of Victoria restaurant Bear & Joey.

“The unexpected announcement of new restrictions on March 29 was difficult for pubs, restaurants and gyms. Many of them had purchased extra inventory and lined up staff for what they expected to be a joyous and busy Easter weekend. Being able to access funds to cover losses helps, but we really want to see government consult with business to ensure funding gets to them effectively and efficiently. This isn’t the time for politics or policy wonks to add arbitrary barriers to relief,” says Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce CEO Bruce Williams.

To be eligible, a business is required to:

  • confirm it has been affected by the recent provincial health orders;
  • provide electronic banking information;
  • confirm it is registered as a B.C. business;
  • produce a business validation document, such as a business licence, liquor licence, notice of assessment or lease agreement; and
  • confirm majority ownership and operations and payment of taxes in B.C.

The grant is open to eligible businesses of any size that have been in operation since February 1st of 2021.  Affected businesses can access the funds quickly, due to the streamlined application process. Applications will remain open until June 4, 2021, or until the grant funds are disbursed. For more information visit:

For more information on the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant program, including the application process and eligibility, visit: