Businesses with 50 employees or less, not-for-profit organizations, and cultural livelihoods supporting First Nations communities are still able to apply for Phase Two relief funding by the BC wildfires this past summer.

Red Cross Canada has extended the deadline to apply until May 4th.

Coorindator for the Wildfire Recovery Program for Community Futures Sue Lachance says they’ve helped almost 500 businesses in the region go through the application process at no cost.

“Many businesses for time or other reasons have had a difficult time getting to filling out the application for the Red Cross program. So they come in here or they visit with one of our Ambassadors throughout the region and it takes approximately half an hour.”

In addition to Red Cross, Lachance says Community Futures has several other programs available to help businesses and that others are coming in.

A recent report by the CCCTA on the economic impact of the 2017 wildfires to the region is estimating direct revenue losses to tourism-related businesses at $55 million.

“Research that has been done and the information that we’ve gathered here through Community Futures in helping businesses, we believe that there is a lot of businesses that have had difficulty in acquiring the information.”

“Many of the businesses haven’t heard yet that the program is available,” Lachance says of the second phase of Red Cross Canada’s Support to Small Business Program.

“As a result of that we’ve seen, and I’m sure Red Cross has seen that there is definitely still the need for that support and applications still coming in. So we were very, very happy to hear that they heard the voices of the business community and they have done an extension on it which is great.”

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– with files from Rebecca Kelli, My Cariboo Now