The B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction has announced a series of financial supports for vulnerable people, including those on income and disability assistance and low income seniors.

Everyone on income or disability assistance who is not eligible for the emergency federal support programs, including the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), will receive an automatic $300/monthly COVID-19 crisis supplement for the next three months.

This will also be provided to low-income seniors who receive the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and recipients of income assistance or disability assistance who reside in special care facilities.

In addition, the province is implementing a temporary exemption on earning qualifications for people receiving support.

This means those who are eligible to receive the CERB or Employment Insurance can accept those funds without having them deducted from monthly assistance payments.

“This is a stressful time for everyone, but for those struggling to put food on the table at the best of times, it is important that we ensure there are no additional barriers to get what they need to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

Further, BC Bus Program users receiving income assistance and disability assistance who normally receive bus passes for BC Transit or TransLink will instead have the $52 (the price of those bus passes) added to their monthly cheques for as long as bus systems have suspended bus fares during this pandemic.

Existing Compass passes under the BC Bus Pass Program will not be cancelled and will remain active during this time, so people will not need to reapply for bus passes in the future. This will also ensure people can still use SkyTrain and SeaBus services that are still charging fares.

According to Simpson, these measures will impact about 205,000 people receiving assistance cheques, 58,000 low income seniors and 4,000 people living in specialized care facilities.

There is no application process required for these additional supports, and those eligible to receive these funds will see them on their next cheques on April 22nd.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

According to the latest updates, there are 1,066 cases of COVID-19 in British Columbia, including 72 on Vancouver Island.

In good news, a total of 606 people have now recovered from the virus in B.C.

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 983,635.

Over 50,300 people have died from the illness and 206,290 have made a full recovery.