It was a key promise in BC Premier John Horgan’s re-election campaign last fall: A COVID-19 relief benefit of either $1,000 or $500, depending on one’s living situation.
Applications for the benefit opened in late December, and Horgan said Thursday morning that so far, 1.4 million British Columbians have been approved for the benefit, and $645 million has been dispersed.
Horgan made the comments during a press conference after he was asked about concerns that had been expressed when the benefit opened, including website crashes and application issues.
“There’s always room for improvement, but as I understand it, 1.4 million British Columbians have been approved, and $645 million has already been dispersed,” he said. “We heard of some challenges at the front end, and I was mindful of that.”
However, Horgan reminded people that the program is open until June of this year, “so there’s plenty of time to ensure that if people are being frustrated by the process, that we can work with them and get through that.”
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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.
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.
British Columbians receiving income assistance and disability assistance are eligible for the 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.
For those without access to a computer or the internet, call centre agents are available to assist people who need help applying or those who want to apply by phone, who can call 1-833 882-0020, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays) from 7:30 am to 5 pm PST.
According to the province, an estimated 3.7 million individuals and families, or 90% of all BC adults, are eligible for the benefit.