BC government unveils details of its $1.5B economic recovery plan

Sep 17 2020, 9:30 pm

BC Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James released details of the provincial government’s $1.5 billion economic recovery plan on Thursday.

The plan, entitled Stronger BC for Everyone: BC’s Economic Recovery Planoutlines the province’s plan to help people, businesses and communities “recover and come out of COVID-19 stronger and better prepared.”

“As British Columbians, we’ve been through a lot recently,” Horgan during a press conference on Thursday. “We know our recovery won’t happen overnight, but by focusing on people and taking care of each other, we will ensure there are better days ahead for all of us.”

The steps being taken in the plan, he added, “will improve health care, get people back to work, support B.C. businesses and strengthen our neighbourhoods and communities.”

The plan includes $1.5 billion in economic recovery spending measures that respond to “immediate needs,” the province said.

This money was earmarked for recovery spending in the spring and is in addition to $660 million in tax measures and more than $1.86 billion in federal and provincial restart funding for municipalities, transit and education.

According to Finance Minister Carole James, BC has had stronger-than-expected consumer spending, housing activity and employment gains, since the province started its restart plan back in mid-May.

“When COVID-19 first hit, we acted quickly to keep people safe and support those in need. While we are now starting to see hopeful signs of recovery, we know many people are still struggling and there is a lot of work left to do,” said James. “British Columbians are pulling together, and we’ll be there to support them every step of the way. Our province has a strong foundation to build a recovery that creates opportunities for all.”

James and Horgan also outlined the next steps in BC’s recovery plan, which they said includes:

  • Hiring 7,000 new front-line health-care workers, including includes thousands of health-care aides to manage outbreaks in long-term care homes and 600 contact tracers to help stop further spread in the community;
  • Investing in targeted and short-term training in “the skills people need to get work in high-demand fields, including for those who want to move into new, front-line health, child care and human-service positions.”  The plan will also expand Indigenous skills training and accelerate the creation of affordable child-care spaces so that more parents, particularly women, can get back to work. It includes investments of over $100 million to support tourism-related businesses and communities;
  • Helping businesses grow and rehire with a 15% refundable tax credit based on eligible new payroll. It will also introduce a small- and medium-sized business recovery grant to support approximately 15,000 hard-hit businesses while protecting as many as 200,000 jobs. Tourism operators will be eligible for a special top-up. The plan will also provide a temporary 100% PST rebate on select machinery and equipment to make it easier for eligible businesses to make the kinds of investments that will allow them to grow and become more productive;
  • Supporting strong communities by investing over $400 million to revitalize community infrastructure and support local governments to provide the valuable services people depend on. This includes $100 million in infrastructure grants for shovel-ready projects that will create jobs right away. The plan also earmarks over $1 billion in provincial and federal investments to help keep people moving, whether by transit, TransLink or BC Ferries. An additional $540 million in combined federal/provincial funding will help B.C. communities address other local challenges impacted by COVID-19.

BC’s total provincial response to the COVID-19 pandemic exceeds $8.25 billion.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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