B.C. Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James in the legislature, Oct. 16, 2018. (Hansard TV)

B.C. announces $5 billion financial relief for COVID-19 pandemic

Renters, small business to get assistance quickly, John Horgan says

The B.C. government has announced a $5 billion aid package for individuals and businesses affected by the economic shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions, Premier John Horgan says.

Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced their package March 23, saying $2.8 billion will go to people, and $2.2 billion will go to small businesses, with payments flowing even as the details of the programs are worked out.

It includes aid for renters so no one will be evicted due to the coronavirus measures that have shut down much of the economy, Horgan said. It also includes $1.7 billion for additional health care to deal with the illnesses as a result of the virus.

James said the B.C. benefit will include a one-time $1,000 tax-free benefit to people who are unable to work, including those who are eligible for Employment Insurance and other federal aid. Application will be simple, with everyone who qualifies for expanded EI payments also eligible for the B.C. payments, which are targeted to begin in May.

“We know that there are people now who are unable to work and pay their rent and bills,” James said.

Horgan said renter evictions that were already in progress will continue, but “no one will lose their apartment because of COVID-19.” B.C. Housing has suspended evictions from its provincially subsidized housing.

RELATED: B.C. screening care home workers daily after outbreaks

RELATED: B.C. reports three more deaths, but 100 people recovered

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. is allowing for monthly vehicle insurance payments to be deferred up to 90 days, and B.C. Hydro is making available payment deferrals and access to its emergency fund that pays eligible customers up to $600 to keep their power on.

A range of provincial tax payments are being delayed until Sept. 30 for businesses who collect them, including sales tax, fuel and tobacco tax revenue. B.C.’s next carbon tax increase, set for April 1, is also delayed until next September.

James said $500 million has also been earmarked to cover urban commercial property taxes to help businesses recover and get through the year as their business recovers. The finance ministry has allotted $1.5 billion to help businesses recover once the pandemic subsides.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Do not push the button’: Downtown Kelowna crossings go touchless amid COVID-19 pandemic

The pedestrian crossings at 19 intersections were automated last week to reduce contact points

Join the Regional District on Instagram Live

The Regional District of Central Okanagan parks interpretive programs are going online

COVID-19: Diabetes Canada donation bins becoming garbage dumps amid pandemic

Diabetes Canada has asked residents to stop overflowing bins with donations and garbage

Okanagan College students receive emergency funding

Funding is available to domestic and Indigenous students from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training

Lake Country ceases tourism operations for 2020, Okanagan tourism continues to suffer

The District of Lake Country voted to suspend tourism on March 31

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Summerland couple sharing positive messages

Carsten and Val Nielsen are displaying professionally made signs during COVID-19 pandemic

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

COVID-19: Vernon company creates reusable respirators

From athletes to those most at risk, VO2 Master’s adapts production to fill PPE need

Okanagan College grading system critical despite COVID-19 pandemic

On heels of petition penned by student, VP academic says grading system necessary for accurate assessments

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Most Read