Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon was chided by Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce president Ken Dennis in a Friday, March 18 letter, for making what Dennis termed a ‘misleading’ statement about provincial government benefits for business during the pandemic.
Dennis took issue with Kahlon over a Thursday statement by Kalhlon saying the provincial government has exceeded an initial commitment to provide $1.5 billion to help people, businesses and communities affected by the pandemic.
“This includes more than $530 million that went into the pockets of local business owners to help them navigate the challenges of operating in the pandemic and to continue to safely support the people in their communities,” Kahlon said.
Dennis said it was “misleading” to say $530 million “went into the pockets of local business owners.”
“The business community struggled through the pandemic and many continue to struggle,” Dennis commented.
“For you to insinuate that business owners were “lining their pockets” with grants and subsidies is shocking and completely unfair. The money was used for many things, not the least of which was keeping the workforce in British Columbia employed and contributing to the tax base for the last 2 years.”
Business owners, Dennis said, “have borne the brunt of lockdowns, capacity limitations, PPE costs, increased taxes, sick days, minimum wage increases, tax increases, supply chain issues and a never-ending stream of increased cost burdens – our members have not been filling their pockets with free public money.”
“Many business owners have, in fact had to take on debt, use personal reserved emergency funds and cut back in every way, just to stay afloat,” Dennis added.
“It is obvious your government is incredibly out of touch with what independent business owners have had to deal with over the last 24 months and this continues to be evident with every new cost you pass along.”
His comments followed a meeting between Kahlon and the Langley Chamber on Tuesday, March 15, part of a province-wide round of meetings by the minister to discuss the provincial Stronger BC Economic Plan.
Kahlon also held an agritech round table and a separate get-together with Global Mining, a Langley manufacturer of wheels and rims for giant-sized trucks and other products,.
During an appearance in Prince George on Wednesday, March 16, Kahlon said B.C. is leading the country in terms of economic recovery with a 103 per cent recovery rate and 3 per cent more people working right now than prior to the pandemic.
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