VICTORIA -- British Columbians can apply for the province’s one-time emergency benefit payment during the COVID-19 pandemic starting today.

Applications for the $1,000 emergency benefit payment opened Friday, May 1 and can be found online here. The benefit is for those whose ability to work has been negatively affected by the novel coronavirus.

The benefit is a top-up for those who already qualify for federal employment insurance or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

“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 B.C. Finance Minister Carole James in a statement last week.

“During these uncertain times, we want to get through this together by helping displaced workers support themselves and their families,” she added.

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers is a tax-free $1,000 payment for B.C. residents.

To be eligible for the payment, recipients 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.

Payments will start to go out within days of application, according to the province.

For help with applications or general questions, people can call 778-309-4630, or toll-free within B.C. at 1-855-955-3545, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Applications over the phone will begin on May 4.

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.