BC FORUM News - From The Advocate, Summer, 2020
BC leads in supporting people
The federal government has provided major economic supports to help people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In what Maclean’s Magazine called “a particular win for NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh” it expanded the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to cover more workers and implemented the NDP’s proposal for a 75 percent wage subsidy to help protect jobs.
Ottawa also added a one time payment of $300 to Old Age Security recipients and $200 to Guaranteed Income Supplement recipients.
Provincial governments have also stepped up – some more than others – to fill gaps in the federal initiatives.
“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.
British Columbia has tackled the pandemic with a remarkable level of tri-partisan support. Here are some of the highlights of actions taken up to our deadline:
• A one time $1,000 top-up to people who qualify for the CERB.
• An extra $300 a month, for three months, for seniors who receive the Seniors’ Supplement.
• An increase in the Climate Action Tax Credit, automatically paid out with an increased GST credit in July. About 86 percent of British Columbians will benefit.
• A freeze on new and existing evictions, except in extraordinary circumstances, up to $500 a month for renters, and a freeze on all new rent increases during the state of emergency.
• A 1% reduction in electricity rates, and for people who are not working due to Covid-19, a nonrepayable credit equal to three times the average monthly bill. BC Hydro’s customer crisis fund may also grant up to $600.
• ICBC has waived fees for cancelling your car insurance, and permitted people who pay their insurance on a monthly basis to defer payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.
• Emergency funding of $225 a month for three months to support children with special needs.
• Additional funding to support food banks, community services and caregivers.
• An increase of $300 a month for three months for people with disabilities and those who are on income assistance.
• Suspended fare collection on TransLink and BC Transit buses until June 1, when new safety measures were to be implemented.
• Nearly 2,000 spaces secured throughout B.C. to help the homeless, youth, and others without safe places to self-isolate.
• Amended the Employment Standards Act so workers can take unpaid, job-protected leave.
• Greatly increased support to child care providers.
• Cut school taxes in half for commercial properties.
This is a partial list. For a complete list and the latest updates, please visit www.gov.bc.ca.