Online applications for the BC Recovery Benefit are now open.
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.
The tax-free benefit was promised by the NDP during Premier John Horgan’s election campaign this past fall.
“I’d like to thank the BC public service for getting this program up and running so quickly and to the hundreds of Service BC call centre staff who will be helping British Columbians apply for their BC Recovery Benefit,” said BC Minister of Finance Selina Robinson, in a statement.
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, the province said that starting on Monday, December 21, call centre agents will be available to assist people who need help applying or those who want to apply by phone, who call 1-833 882-0020, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays), from 7:30 am to 5 pm PST.
And while up to 350 call centre agents will be available during the first week to help answer questions or complete applications over the phone, the province warned that people should expect longer wait times for the first few weeks, due to factors such as call volumes, web traffic, and delays with banking institutions.
As such, Robinson asked people to “please be patient and respectful to staff over the holidays as call volumes may result in longer wait times.”
The province said that in the new year, it will introduce a modified application process for people receiving disability and income assistance who do not have banking services or who have barriers to filing income taxes.
An estimated 3.7 million individuals and families, or 90% of all BC adults, are eligible for the benefit, and people can apply for it until June 2021.
Robinson 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.”
On Friday morning, however, it appeared that may be easier said than done, as the website appeared to have crashed.