Monday December 14, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
A majority of British Columbians will get a lift with the launch of the BC Recovery Benefit, enabling many families and individuals to receive the benefit by the end of the year. This was announced last week to fulfill a Fall 2020 election campaign promise. It sweetened the pot then, and it does now.
“As 2020 draws to a close, we look back on a year like no other. British Columbians came together to face the challenge of COVID-19 with resilience and strength, but the road to recovery is still ahead of us,” said Premier John Horgan.
“We have worked hard to get the BC Recovery Benefit to people as soon as possible. We are united with the millions of people and families who are wrapping up a difficult year and look forward to a new year with hope and the promise of a continued recovery.”
A wrinkle in delivery:
During the campaign the income-thresholds were indicated, but there was no mention of having to take action to apply. The presumption was that these benefits would be automatically calculated and issued based on tax information already in the system.
The requirement to apply is likely a bit of a failsafe to somewhat prevent people from applying who don’t really need it.
Up to $1,000 for families, $500 for singles:
Last week, on Tuesday December 8, the BC government introduced legislation to secure funding for approximately 3.7 million British Columbians to receive the tax-free BC Recovery Benefit. Passage of the bill will ensure British Columbians can apply for the benefit starting this week on Friday December 18:
* $1,000 for families with incomes under $125,000. Families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount. Single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts.
* $500 for single people earning less than $62,500. Single people earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount.
Application portal opens December 18:
Starting Friday December 18, the online application portal will be open at gov.bc.ca/recoverybenefit
Starting Monday December 21, agents will be available by phone to assist people who need help applying, including those who do not have internet access. Phone-based support will be available at 1-833-882-0020 toll-free within North America, Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Pacific time).
Making ends meet this holiday season:
“We know that making ends meet during the holiday season is a concern for many families, even without the added stress of a pandemic. These additional supports will mean BC families will have extra dollars to spend when they need it most,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “These benefits will also help stimulate our local economy and support small businesses that are working hard and providing good jobs for people. This is an important part of how we recover.”
British Columbians receiving income assistance and disability assistance will be eligible for the B.C. Recovery Benefit. As well, people on income assistance, disability assistance and low-income seniors receiving the senior’s supplement will receive an additional recovery benefit at $150 per month from January 2021 to March 2021.
“This pandemic has had significant impacts on vulnerable populations so that’s why, unlike with the previous workers’ benefit, people on income or disability assistance will be eligible for the recovery benefit, and they will receive a recovery supplement of $150/month,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Coupled together, the recovery benefit and recovery supplement will provide vulnerable families with up to $1,900 during this difficult winter season.”
Support mechanisms during the pandemic:
The BC Recovery Benefit and the additional temporary recovery supplement continue government’s support for people and families during the COVID-19 pandemic and into BC’s recovery.
Other previous supports include the $300-per-month COVID-19 crisis supplement (April to December 2020), $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (which opened in May and closed December 2, 2020), extension of a rent freeze through to July 10, 2021 (although evictions for owners who claim they are moving back in are now allowed again), and the one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit in July 2020, which put up to $174.50 for adults and $51.25 for children into people’s pockets when they needed it most.
Other affordability programs:
BC’s COVID-19 supports for people build on government’s previous affordability investments, including:
- the BC Child Opportunity Benefit, which provides approximately 300,000 B.C. families with a tax-free benefit for each child up to 18 years.
- investing in child care by lowering fees for licensed child care through the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative, adding more licensed child-care spaces and launching the Affordable Child Care Benefit.
- building affordable housing through a $7-billion, 10-year investment that will, in part, help create 114,000 affordable market rental, non-profit, supported social housing and owner-purchase housing through partnerships. It will also expand eligibility and increase the average benefits under the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER).
- eliminating Medical Services Plan premiums – which the NDP government call one of the biggest middle-class tax cuts in the province’s history.