British Columbians will soon be able to apply for the government’s Recovery Benefit program via an online portal.
Applications are set to open on December 18th at gov.bc.ca/recoverybenefit. Phone applications will open on December 21, Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST, at 1-833-882-020.
“We know that making ends meet during the holiday season is a concern for many families, even without the added stress of a pandemic,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance.
“This is an important part of how we recover.”
The program is the rollout of an NDP campaign promise to deliver one-time payments of $1,000 to families and $500 to individuals.
Families earning up to $125,000 are eligible for the full $1,000, while incomes past that cutoff up to $175,000 can receive scaled amounts.
Individuals are eligible with incomes up to $62,500, with scaled benefits for incomes up to $87,500.
Robinson says that the cutoff numbers are based on middle-income British Columbians who have been impacted by the pandemic.
“If we’re using the 2019 returns, we want to make sure that we capture those people who in 2020 may have been significantly impacted by the pandemic,” she said.
“So we made sure that we included middle income British Columbians in that.”
People on income assistance, disability assistance, or who are receiving the senior’s low-income supplement will receive an additional $150 per month from January 2021 to March 2021.
Applications will only be available to people who:
- are residents of B.C. on December 18, 2020
- are at least 19 years old on December 18, 2020
- have filed a 2019 income tax return
- have their 2019 income tax notice of assessment, and if applicable, their spouse’s 2019 income tax notice of assessment;
- have their social insurance number;
- have their direct deposit information; and
- have their B.C. driver’s licence.
When asked why the government chose to base the benefit off of 2019 tax returns when 2020 saw a larger impact on incomes, Robinson said waiting for 2020 returns would delay the program.
“If we were to wait for the 2020 tax returns people wouldn’t get a benefit until much later, and people need help now,” she said.
“We have a significant threshold that allows us to get at those people who need it most.”
The government says they are asking people to provide a B.C. driver’s license to try to reduce fraudulent claims in the program.
Those without a driver’s license are still eligible and the application will ask people to confirm that they do not have a driver’s license.
Individuals on income or disability assistance who do not have a bank account are also eligible to receive the benefit, however they will have to wait for a modified application process which the government says will launch in the new year.
The Finance Minister says that the benefit is expected to cost the government between $1.6 and $1.7 billion.