Shon and Janis Neufeld at their small business

Wage subsidy program a big help to small businesses

The program helps out with the cost of hiring a student during the school year.

Running a small business can be difficult.

A business owner has to wear many hats in order to be successful.

Sometimes though, a little help is needed, especially when it comes to finding money to pay for staff.

This is where wage subsidy programs come in handy.

Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) currently has a School Works Program that subsidizes wages for student employees working at a small business.

For example, if there is an accounting clerk position that pays $19 an hour, CBT gives the wage subsidy of $8, and the business has to make up the difference.

The program allows businesses to hire a student from September to June.

“It frees them up to give a bit of time to actually focus on other parts of their business like business planning, or HR,” said Delphi Hoodicoff, director of communications for CBT. “It meant they didn’t have to run the cash register, or they didn’t have to spend time on the floor.”

Last year 139 positions were created through the program during the school year. These jobs might not have been available otherwise.

At least one business in the area, Shon’s Bike and Ski Shop, has already applied for the School Works Program.

Shon’s has taken part in other wage subsidy programs funded by CBT, including the Summer Works Program.

“With the expansion of our business onto Main Street we found ourselves very busy, both in the months leading up to the summer,” said Janis Neufeld, co-owner of Shon’s. “Knowing this summer was going to be busier, we thought we had better be prepared and make sure we had extra help.”

There are guidelines for applying to the program, which can be found on These guidelines include how many students are allowed to be hired per business, how many weeks a business can apply for, the amount of hours a student can work, when the student can start working, and more.

A new addition to the program, added last year, are apprenticeships.There are four categories for the apprenticeships: carpentry, construction electrician, heavy duty mechanic, and automotive service technician.

Having this added means fewer students have to leave the region for their apprenticeship.

It’s not only small businesses that can apply for the School Works Program. Non-profit organizations and other public bodies are able to apply as well.

Having this kind of program has been very helpful for smaller businesses in the area, something Neufeld is grateful for.

“CBT doing this initiative is a great way for them to support the community in a real gainful way that helps both employers and employees,” she said.

There is no deadline for application. The program will continue until the funding runs out.


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