The B.C. provincial government has announced a $5 billion financial assistance package to aid individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19.
The B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan builds on the $82 billion aid fund announced by the federal government last week.
This new package includes $2.8 billion of aid for individuals and services, and $2.2 billion for businesses.
“In extraordinary times, extraordinary measures are required,” said Premier Horgan during the announcement.
According to Finance Minister Carole James, this plan is a starting point and will evolve as the global pandemic evolves. Some measures will take effect immediately while others will take time to implement.
Here are some highlights of the package:
- $1.7 billion in investments for critical services like
- housing and shelter supports,
- income and disability assistance programs and
- crucial health services, like funding for the BCCDC hotline, quarantine costs, lab tests and work underway at the First Nations Health Authority and the United Way’s Better at Home program for seniors.
- $1.1 billion providing relief to workers and families
- A one-time tax free payment of $1,000 to workers whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19, whether they qualify for Employment Insurance or not.
- A monetary boost of up to $218 for adults and $64 per child through the B.C. Climate Action tax credit. This will apply to 86% of individuals in the province, and a family of four will receive up to $564 extra in the month of July.
- All evictions have been halted for buildings owned by BC Housing, but there is no moratorium on evictions for other rental units yet. An additional support plan for renters is expected to be announced on Wednesday, March 25th.
- $50 million to United Way to help them run programs to support seniors.
- Licensed child care providers staying open will receive enhanced funding to keep operations going.
- As of March 30th, all student loan payments will be paused until September 30th 2020. Federal student loan payments have also been paused.
- BC Hydro will not disconnect service for non-payment at this time. Their new COVID-19 program gives customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty by calling 1-800-224-9376 to discuss bill payment options.
- ICBC is cancelling road tests and offering remote options for people wishing to access services.
- The province is deferring the provincial tax filing and payment deadlines for businesses until September 30th 2020.
- The province is also delaying the increase of the carbon tax, the new sugary drinks tax, and other payments scheduled to go into effect on July 1st as part of the new B.C. Budget.
- B.C. has set aside $1.5 billion to plan for the province’s economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. According to Minister James, this fund will help provide stimulus to economic sectors that need it most, and encourage investment in B.C. through international partners.
Currently there are 472 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C. including 39 on Vancouver Island.
The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic.
Earlier this week, B.C. joined Alberta and Ontario in declaring a public health emergency in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency to support the health ministry’s public health emergency.
The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C.
Canada has tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada.
U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule, and non-essential travel between U.S. and Canada will be temporarily banned by March 21st. Moreover international flights have now been restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.
The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.
Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.
The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19 line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.
As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 372,557.
Nearly 16,500 people have died from the illness and 101,371 have made a full recovery.