The BC government introduced legislation on Tuesday to secure funding for the the tax-free BC Recovery Benefit, which was promised by the NDP during Premier John Horgan’s election campaign this past fall.
The benefit means a one-time $1,000 payment to families with an annual household income below $125,000 – with a sliding scale up to $175,000, or a $500 direct deposit to single people earning less than $62,000 annually – with a sliding scale up to $87,000.
British Columbians receiving income assistance and disability assistance will be eligible for the BC 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.
With the passage of the bill, British Columbians will be able to apply online for the benefit, starting on December 18.
“We know that making ends meet during the holiday season is a concern for many families, even without the added stress of a pandemic,” said BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson. “These benefits will also help stimulate our local economy and support small businesses that are working hard and providing good jobs for people.”
In general, the benefit is available to people:
- Residing in British Columbia on December 18, 2020;
- Who are at least 19 years old on December 18, 2020, or meet specific eligibility criteria;
- Who filed a 2019 Canadian personal income tax return, or meet specific eligibility criteria;
- Who have a valid social insurance number, individual tax number or temporary tax number.
- See also:
Horgan said his government has “worked hard to get the BC Recovery Benefit to people as soon as possible.”
As to whether the money will actually be in people’s pockets in time for Christmas, Robinson said that’s the plan. “We expect people will receive [the money] in a direct deposit within days of their application,” she said.
For those who don’t want to apply online, Robinson said a call centre will open – likely on December 21 – “and people will be able to call that number.”
Still, she encouraged people to apply for the benefit online, and said that once someone has done so, things “move very quickly… and we are expecting we will be able to get [the money] in their bank account before Christmas.”
Asked about the administrative cost to the government of this program, Robinson said it’s between $1.6 to $1.7 billion. “We’ve rolled in those on disability and social assistance, as well,” she said.