BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Autumn 2020
Tackling a huge challenge
We’re in a health and economic crisis unseen in most of our lifetimes
The COVID -19 pandemic has marked our lives in ways that would have seemed impossible at this time last year.
It is a massive challenge for all governments. In B.C., the NDP provincial government is investing in people, businesses and communities to help see them through the pandemic and build back better.
“Across the board, B.C. is leading the nation with its economic response to COVID-19,” says an analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
“B.C. has made extraordinary investments in people and businesses through B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan and we will continue to provide the supports people need as the pandemic and the economic impacts evolve,” says Carole James, Minister of Finance.
By mid-summer, government had supported people and businesses with $6.26 billion in COVID-19 supports.
That included the $5 billion in supplementary spending for workers’ benefits, rent supplements, income and disability assistance supports and economic recovery funding.
This amount is in addition to $1.26 billion in other tax and relief measures for people and businesses, including a one-time increase to the climate action tax credit and property tax reductions for businesses.
A further $1.5 billion has been earmarked for economic recovery measures to be announced this fall.
“B.C.’s safe restart plan is creating signs of hope for our economy as consumer confidence increases. These results have only been possible because of our strong public health measures,” says James.
“As we continue our work to create a strong recovery, we also have an opportunity to build a stronger B.C. that works for everyone in our province.”
The government says British Columbia has made progress flattening the curve because of its strong health policy and a commitment to help keep each other safe.
The province is building an economic recovery plan that puts people first, with input from British Columbians, businesses and community organizations – so everyone has a good job and a secure future.
“The pandemic has exposed underlying gaps in our economy and society,” James says.
“We have been reminded of the need for strong public services and supports, workplace safety and our collective responsibility to take care of each other, and I’m looking forward to putting people’s input into action as we move forward with the economic recovery of our province.”
• More than 600,000 British Columbians have received the one-time, tax-free $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers.
• More than 80 percent of B.C. families received an enhanced climate action tax credit in July – helping families with up to an additional $450, double the usual annual amount.
• Over 200,000 people have benefited from the disability and income assistance crisis supplements.
• More than 81,000 applications have been approved for the temporary rent relief supplement.
• Over 250,000 eligible frontline workers will receive temporary pandemic pay, a lumpsum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period.
• Businesses have benefited from an average 25 percent cut to property tax bills, deferred tax payments, BC Hydro rate reductions, eviction protection and rent relief.