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Province updating disaster financial assistance program

The B.C. government is making “significant changes” to the province’s disaster financial assistance program so more people can access benefits.

Provincial officials say it will allow them to increase the province’s contribution toward recovery projects, provide up-front contributions and expand eligibility to cover more people and small businesses.

“The catastrophic flooding in November 2021 highlighted the limitations of our disaster financial assistance program, and given the scale of the disaster, we need to make changes quickly,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in a release.

“These changes will help ensure people, First Nations and local governments impacted by severe flooding aren’t facing insurmountable costs and will improve the program so we can respond faster next time and provide more support to those impacted.”

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The province is modifying the cost-sharing formula so the province’s contribution increases as the cost of the project goes up.

Previously it was set at 80 per cent with local authorities on the hook for 20 per cent.

Now the local authority’s contribution will be a minimum of five per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent of the total project cost.

Emergency Management BC will now also provide a portion of a project’s estimated costs up front instead of reimbursing once a project was fully completed.

They are also raising the maximum annual revenue threshold for all small businesses from $1 million to $2 million to allow more businesses to qualify.

The province has re-opened applications to the program until July 27 to give businesses the opportunity to apply under the new requirements.

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