(File Photo)

As a way to help mitigate financial hardships that may be caused by self isolating during the global coronavirus pandemic, BC Hydro has introduced a new COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program.

“We recognize the financial impact COVID-19 may have on our customers due to changes in employment from workplaces closing, or reducing staffing levels and want to provide some relief during this challenging time,” said Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro President and Chief Executive Officer.

“In addition, some customers may experience higher electricity bills due to increased consumption from spending more time at home.”

See also: No cruise ships will arrive in Victoria as Transport Canada suspends cruise season until July 1

The utility company’s financial assistance 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.

Anyone who is facing temporary financial hardship due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member can also apply for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay bills.

“BC Hydro continues to monitor the situation closely and will implement new measures as the situation progresses based on information and advice provided by health authorities,” reads a statement from the company.

Earlier today, Prime Minster Trudeau announced that the government is working on a fiscal aid package that will directly benefit individuals and small businesses affected financially by COVID-19.

Multiple major events have been cancelled, Transport Canada has suspended cruise ship season until June 1st, and all non essential travel outside the country has been discouraged as a result of the outbreak.

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.

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