The B.C. government has opened its application portal for its latest round of COVID-19 recovery payments.
The finance ministry opened application system Friday morning at gov.bc.ca/recoverybenefit, and initial attempts to call up the site showed a “server error” as the first of up to 3.7 million eligible B.C. adults began to claim it. Those who don’t have online access can phone a toll-free number, 1-833-882-0020, to apply starting Monday, Dec. 21.
The cost of sending $1,000 in borrowed money to almost all B.C. households, whether they lost income in the pandemic or not, has been revised upward.
It was costed at $1.45 billion in the NDP election platform, but Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s second-quarter update, delivered a month late this week due to the election, estimated it to be $1.7 billion. The “B.C. Recovery Benefit” pays $1,000 to families with 2019 income up to $125,000, and $500 for single individuals who made up to $67,500 last year. Reduced payments are to go to families earning up to $175,000 and individuals making up to $87,000 in 2019.
Horgan acknowledged during the October campaign that the second round of payments was a late addition to the NDP platform for his snap election call, in response to a B.C. Liberal pledge to roll back B.C.’s seven-per-cent sales tax to zero for the coming year. B.C.’s first round of $1,000 COVID-19 relief payments was targeted to working adults who qualified for the the federal Canada Emergency Relief Benefit, which required proof of lost income as a result of the pandemic.
The B.C. Liberal opposition voted in favour of the latest round of payments in a brief session of the legislature that ended Thursday.