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Details released on how to apply for B.C.’s COVID-19 recovery benefit

Click to play video 'British Columbians could get coronavirus benefit by Christmas' British Columbians could get coronavirus benefit by Christmas
The B.C. government has put forward legislation that should lead to the disbursement of the $1,000 dollar B.C. Recovery Benefit. Applications will start online on December 18. Richard Zussman reports – Dec 8, 2020

British Columbians can apply for B.C.’s COVID-19 recovery benefit starting on Dec. 18.

Families with income under $125,000 will be eligible to receive $1,000 in a direct deposit from the government. Single people earning less than $62,500 will receive $500.

Click to play video 'Finance minister announces B.C. recovery  benefit applications will open Dec. 18' Finance minister announces B.C. recovery benefit applications will open Dec. 18
Finance minister announces B.C. recovery benefit applications will open Dec. 18 – Dec 8, 2020

The benefit is on a sliding scale with families earning between $125,000 and $175,000 qualifying for a reduced amount. For example, a family that makes $174,900 a year will receive a one-time benefit of $10.

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The benefit will be based on what British Columbians made in 2019 rather than this year when many people have lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click to play video 'Details on B.C. recovery benefit’s sliding scale, eligibility' Details on B.C. recovery benefit’s sliding scale, eligibility
Details on B.C. recovery benefit’s sliding scale, eligibility – Dec 8, 2020

Read more: BC NDP pledges $1,000 in COVID-19 relief to certain families if re-elected

“If we were to wait until the 2020 tax returns people would not get the support until much later. People need the help now,” Finance Minister Selina Robinson said.

“This is about recognizing that you could be an electrician married to a hairstylist and the impacts of COVID have been significant in terms of your ability to do Christmas the way you would like to.”

British Columbians receiving income assistance and disability assistance will be eligible for the benefit. There will be no claw-back from benefits and the benefit is not taxable.

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People on income assistance, disability assistance and low-income seniors receiving the senior’s supplement will receive an additional recovery benefit at $150 per month from January to March 2021.

Read more: BC NDP’s $1,000 COVID-19 relief benefit could be delayed until new year, says premier

“As 2020 draws to a close, we look back on a year like no other. British Columbians came together to face the challenge of COVID-19 with resilience and strength, but the road to recovery is still ahead of us,” Premier John Horgan said.

Click to play video 'Throne speech kicks off brief B.C. legislature session' Throne speech kicks off brief B.C. legislature session
Throne speech kicks off brief B.C. legislature session – Dec 7, 2020

Around 3.7 million British Columbians are eligible to receive the tax-free benefit.

Applications will be available online beginning Dec. 18. The province will open a call centre on Dec. 21.

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The province is committing to having hundreds of thousands of direct deposits done soon after Dec. 18.

BC Liberal Finance Critic Mike Bernier said the benefit is “essentially telling B.C. families that they will have to stretch this one-time payment through to May of next year.”

“We understand that this recovery benefit will be useful to so many British Columbians, however, we cannot let the government pass this off as a recovery plan — it is short-term relief and does not make up for John Horgan’s lack of a comprehensive long-term plan to get people back on track.”