B.C. government announces $5B relief plan amid COVID-19 outbreak
VICTORIA -- The B.C. government will provide $5 billion in relief for B.C. residents and businesses affected by the novel coronavirus, Premier John Horgan announced Monday.
The financial relief package includes $2.8 billion for residents and services, and $2.2 billion for businesses, the premier said.
The B.C. COVID-19 Action Plan also includes funding for essential health services and targeted tax relief for residents and businesses.
The financial aid will also include help for renters "to ensure no one will be evicted because of COVID-19," Horgan said at the B.C. legislature in Victoria.
Some parts of the plan will take effect immediately while others will be phased in over time.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the relief plan "is a starting point" and will be updated over time
Included in the relief plan is a one-time $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The tax-free benefit is intended for workers who have been laid off, who are sick or quarantined, or who are taking care of a sick child or relative. It also applies to parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed.
The plan also includes a top-up to the B.C. climate action tax credit, which the province says will apply to 86 per cent of individuals and families in the province.
In addition, all student loan payments will be paused until Sept. 30.
"It seems inconceivable that just over a month ago, we tabled a balanced budget," said Horgan.
The legislature resumed sitting on Monday with only 12 members in attendance in order to allow for physical distancing.
The province now has 472 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 13 deaths have been attributed to the outbreak.