The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has helped more than 8.4 billion Canadians make ends meet during the Coronavirus pandemic and a local business has relied heavily on CERB.

The BC Forest Discovery Centre has been open on a gradual basis since June 12 and the main attraction returns Thursday, as train rides will resume.

General Manager Chris Gale said the help from the federal government has been fantastic.

“It has been amazing, actually, the support we’ve got from the government, we’re just lucky we live in Canada because (I tell you), we had to lay all of our staff off, they’ve been off for six months, but now, with the wage subsidies we’re able to bring every single one back,” said Gale.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux has announced that the eight-week extension of the CERB program will cost the Trudeau government an estimated $17.9 billion dollars.

The extension brings the total cost of the benefits program to $71.3 billion dollars.

Gale credits another local business for helping the BC Forest Discovery Centre open on a gradual basis.

“Stillhead Distillery, right here in Duncan, we were looking for hand sanitizers and they phoned us up and gave us a tonne of it to help us open up,” said Gale. “There’s a lot of support out there and what’s neat is people understand they have to be relaxed, take their time, things are actually going quite smoothly.”

Pre-pandemic, the BC Forest Discovery Centre was anticipating that 1,500 people would have shown up during the Father’s Day weekend, but the Coronavirus significantly reduced that number.

In fact, Gale said the first week the tourist destination re-opened, 20-25 people were showing up daily.