The B.C. government has announced a $5 billion relief plan to help residents and businesses during the pandemic.
Premiere John Horgan and Finance Minister Carole James announced the plan, Monday. They said $2.8 billion will go toward residents, while $2.2. billion will help small businesses.
“This plan is a first step, but a critical step,” said James.
As part of the relief plan, James said people who are unable to work will receive a one-time $1,000 tax-free benefit. That is on top of Employment Insurance and other federal aids.
This will likely come into place by May and will require a brief application process.
“We’re looking to simplify this as much as possible,” said James.
The aid also means no renters will be evicted due to COVID-19. The government will discuss further plans for renters on Wednesday, Horgan said.
Three Focus Areas For B.C. Relief Plan
The plan focuses on three key areas, explained James.
- It looks at protecting the health and safety of B.C. residents and those on the front lines. That includes putting $1.7 billion toward additional health care to help fight COVID-19 related illnesses.
- It will bring immediate relief for businesses. That means the government is earmarking $500 million to cover urban commercial property taxes to help businesses recover.
- The plan also focuses on preparing for B.C.’s eventual economic recovery by setting aside $1.5 billion.
Other steps the government is putting in place include halting provincial student loans until September, 2020. ICBC will allow monthly payments to be deferred for up to 90 days.
While B.C. Hydro is making payment deferrals available and is giving access to its emergency funds, which means eligible customers can use up to $600 to keep their power on.
This plan makes up 2% of B.C.’s GDP, said Horgan.
For more news on the pandemic, head to our News section.
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