New Funding Helps B.C. Businesses with Vandalism Costs

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VANCOUVER — Small businesses throughout British Columbia will soon have access to new funding to support increased costs due to crime and vandalism.

Starting in fall 2023, the new $10.5 million Securing Small Business Rebate Program will be available on an application basis and retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023. Businesses will be able to apply for as much as $2,000 per business for the cost of repairs due to vandalism, and up to $1,000 for vandalism prevention. Prevention measures eligible for funding include security cameras or gates. The costs of broken glass and graffiti cleaning are eligible under the vandalism repairs criteria.

Information about how businesses can apply for funding is expected to be made available in the fall and communicated through local chambers of commerce, boards of trade and business-improvement areas to ensure business owners can get funding as soon as possible.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our province and it’s vital we work together to keep our economy strong,” says Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation. “We understand the frustration of business owners taking on the cost of vandalism on their own. We’re taking action to support businesses with new funding to provide relief to cover these costs, and make sure we have a thriving business community.”

“As a business owner, I understand that the issues that face downtowns in Vancouver and in the rest of our province are complex,” says Carol Lee, owner, Chinatown BBQ. “We know there is work being done to address the root causes of crime, but providing new funding to help cover the costs of vandalism will go a long way for businesses like mine so we can keep serving our communities.”

“Recently, businesses of all types have seen an increase in costs to repair damage caused by vandalism ― much of it due to the complex issues that communities across the province are facing,” says Fiona Famulak, president and CEO, BC Chamber of Commerce. “Many business owners have invested in preventative measures to protect their assets and maintain a safe environment for staff and customers. The BC Chamber of Commerce welcomes [this] announcement to establish a program to help offset the costs businesses face as a result of property crime.”

Additionally, WorkSafe BC recently announced preliminary premium rates for 2024. While base rates across all industries haven’t changed, the premium rate for the restaurant classification has dropped by 6.3 per cent, from 0.95 to 0.89. While the decrease is not huge, it’s a significant improvement over the 2023 restaurant classification premium increase and should provide some labour-cost relief for restaurants.

However, individual restaurants may still see their rates go up as the duration of claims has been steadily increasing, and the costs for an employer also depends on their own experience rating. Employers’ efforts in maintaining a safe workplace and keeping claims low is a huge factor in keeping individual business premium costs low. Restaurants Canada continues to work with WorkSafe BC in driving restaurant premium rates down and keeping workers safe.

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