WINNIPEG — The province is looking at expanding the eligibility criteria for the Manitoba Bridge Grant program.
The program, announced on November 10, provides a $5,000 non-repayable payment to businesses forced to close as a result of public health orders to control the spread of COVID-19.
Premier Brian Pallister said on Tuesday nearly $28 million will be paid out by the end of this week as a result of 5,564 applications.
The program is targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses that have been adversely impacted by public health orders. This mainly includes restaurants, bars, beverage rooms, brewpubs, microbreweries, distilleries, casinos, recreation and sports facilities, museums and galleries, theatres and concert halls, as well as charities, not-for-profits and faith-based organizations.
On the other side, businesses that don’t have a physical storefront are not currently eligible for the funding. This has created many local businesses, particularly those in the wedding industry, to lobby the government for inclusion of home-based businesses that aren’t permitted to operate. Photographers, florists, planners and others are all not eligible to apply.
“It’s possible we may expand that program to include some other businesses,” Pallister said during a news conference on Tuesday.
Should public health orders continue for longer than expected, the Manitoba Bridge Grant can be automatically extended on January 1, 2021 to provide an additional $5,000 payment. Businesses who have already received a $6,000 payment from the previous Manitoba Gap Protection Program, as well as any federal support, can still apply for the bridge grant.