Temporary relief is on the way for British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19, with applications for the $1,000 B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) opening on May 1, 2020.
“This benefit is further help for British Columbians who are worried about paying their bills and making ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “During these uncertain times, we want to get through this together by helping displaced workers support themselves and their families.”
The BCEBW is a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment for British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are also eligible for the BCEBW, including those who have run out of employment insurance (EI) benefits and subsequently qualify for the CERB.
To be eligible for the BCEBW, people must:
- have been a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020;
- meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB;
- have been approved for the CERB, even if they have not received a benefit yet;
- be at least 15 years old on the date of application;
- have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return; and
- not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.
Starting May 1, applications can be made online, at any time, and a link to the application portal will be available at: www.gov.bc.ca/workerbenefit
Also starting May 1, people can call 778 309-4630 or toll-free within B.C. at 1 855 955-3545, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Pacific time) for general support or questions. Applications over the phone will begin on May 4.
Payments will start to go out within days of application. While there may be minor delays during the initial surge, government staff will be working to quickly process payments.
The benefit is part of the Province’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan to provide income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people and businesses, and to support the services people count on.
The action plan builds on the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and delivers other key supports for people, including:
- enhancing the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit to provide up to $218 per adult and up to $64 per child in July 2020;
- introducing a rental supplement of $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents;
- providing an emergency $300 per month for the next three months to individuals receiving income assistance or disability assistance and who are not eligible for EI or the CERB;
- freezing all B.C. student loan repayments, interest free, until Sept. 30, 2020;
- halting all evictions due to non-payment of rent for the duration of this emergency;
- delaying several tax filing and payment deadlines for income tax, the employer health tax, provincial sales tax, municipal and regional district tax, motor fuel tax, carbon tax and tobacco tax;
- reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties to achieve an average 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses; and
- changing the Employment Standards Act to ensure immediate job-protected unpaid leave for workers affected by COVID-19, so they can stay home as needed.