On March 23, 2020, the B.C. Government announced a $5 billion COVID-19 Action Plan investing in the Province’s people and businesses.
The following summary of the B.C. Government’s COVID-19 Action Plan for British Columbians has been created from the following B.C. Government resources:
B.C. takes steps to support people, businesses during COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19 Action Plan - Provincial Tax Changes
The B.C. Government is dedicating $1.1 billion in financial support to British Columbians.
A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19. The benefit will be available for workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent. B.C. residents who receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are eligible, as well as those who have exhausted their Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.
The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to B.C. residents, in addition to their federal income supports. Additionally, the one-week waiting period and medical certificate requirements for Employment Insurance have been removed.
In order to receive the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers, you will need to state that you have or will be filing a 2019 B.C. income tax return.
To be eligible for the emergency benefit, you must:
If you receive a payment and are later determine that you are not eligible for it, you may be required to repay it with penalties and interest.
1. Social Insurance Number
When you apply, you'll need your Social Insurance Number (SIN), Individual Tax Number (ITN), or Temporary Tax Number (TTN) to verify your eligibility.
2. Direct Deposit Information
The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will only be issued by direct deposit, ensuring you receive the benefit as soon as possible.
Obtain your direct deposit information before the application period begins.
If you don't use cheques, contact your financial institution to get the numbers. It's important to enter your bank account information correctly.
The $1,000 payment will be made by direct deposit to your personal bank account within 10 business days.
3. An Approved Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
If you haven’t applied for the CERB yet, you must apply for it now as this is one of the eligibility requirements for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.
1. Online Applications
You can apply online starting May 1, 2020. Applying online is safe, secure and only takes minutes.
Documentation isn't required when you apply. However, all applications will be verified and you may be asked for proof of your eligibility at a later date.
2. Telephone Applications
You can apply by telephone with the help of an agent starting May 4, 2020. This option is for people who don’t have internet access.
High call volumes are anticipated and it’s strongly recommended to apply online if you can.
A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:
In order to receive the climate action tax credit you will need to file income taxes in B.C. to be eligible.
In response to the pandemic and resulting financial stress, B.C. has increased funding for housing supports and is working to ensure people can maintain their housing in the event of job or income loss.
The list of measures introduced to keep British Columbians housed include:
Applications for the supplement are open on the BC Housing website
To further support renters and landlords, the Residential Tenancy Branch will implement several additional actions, including adjourning and rescheduling hearings in situations where people need additional time to prepare and extending timelines for filing applications for dispute resolution.
The Province also provided $10 million to Vancity to administer funding and ensure the sustainability of the existing rent bank network. And Canada’s six largest banks have worked together to freeze mortgage payments for six months for those in need.
Due to COVID-19, new emergency measures are in place to ensure that people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors, do not encounter additional barriers.
If you are not receiving federal Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and are on:
You will automatically receive a $300 supplement on your cheques issued in April, May, and June. No action is required on your part.
If you are receiving federal EI or the CERB and receiving:
You will not be eligible for the $300 supplement.
CERB and EI are temporarily exempt, meaning they will have no effect on your regular Income Assistance or Disability Assistance.
If you are on Disability Assistance and receiving the BC Bus Pass:
Direct Deposit is a safe and dependable way to receive payments. Money is deposited directly to your Bank or Credit Union account. You have immediate access to your money.
Sign up for Direct Deposit.
If you have documents to submit, you can mail them or place them in the drop box at any office or phone 1-866-866-0800 to discuss options.
To avoid coming into an office, access services by phone or via My Self Serve.
Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) is also available:
BounceBack™ provides free access to online, video, and phone-based coaching and skills-building program. Seniors, adults and youth who are experiencing low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, or worry, can receive care.
Virtual community counselling for individuals or groups at low or no cost.
Free access to Living Life to the Full peer support and practical skills courses for coping with stress, problem solving, and boosting mood. The eight-week course is led by a trained facilitator.
Available April 20, 2020, a set of mental health screening self-tests alongside the COVID-19 self-assessment tool.
Free psychological first aid is available to all B.C. residents (19+) who are experiencing stress, anxiety, or uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the phone.
In addition to supporting workers on the frontlines of the Overdose Public Health Emergency, the MRT will also support the mental well-being and psychological safety of frontline health care workers who are experiencing exponential distress and mental health concerns in response to COVID-19. To access, call, or email the Provincial Health Services Authority.
This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
New online supports for frontline health care workers and the public to help them cope with any psychological effects they may be experiencing.
Available April 20, 2020, an expanded resources hub will include information to improve psychological and social supports. It provides strategies to help frontline workers take care of their mental health and well-being.
Available May 2020, a phone and text-based peer support service, staffed by former long-term care and home support workers. It provides confidential emotional support to current workers. Peers can also help guide callers to other services and supports if needed.
Nine existing virtual Foundry centres are now accepting virtual walk-in counselling.
As of April 20, 2020, young people 12 to 24 years of age and their families will be able to access youth-focused virtual clinics offering counselling, peer support, primary care and family support through voice calls, video and chat.
Young people 13 to 30 years of age can sign up for six to seven week long programs online for free, starting early May 2020. The YMCA of British Columbia’s Y Mind program helps young people cope with stress, worry and anxiety.
Intake services and mental health counselling from the Ministry of Children and Family Development for children and youth across B.C. Virtual care by phone and online is available.
All registered post-secondary students can get confidential, free counselling, and referral services through Here2Talk by app, phone, or online chat. Here2Talk is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Free online resource for students, parents, and educators to support social and emotional well-being as they navigate the new world of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
EASE at Home offers helpful tips for parents, like how to teach children calming breathing techniques or use structured games like scavenger hunts to build routine in a way that’s fun.
The Province has expanded funding for bc211, a province-wide information and referral service. It matches volunteers to seniors whose support network has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The service takes calls from people who would like to volunteer to help seniors in their community with basic needs, including grocery shopping and pharmacy drop-offs and check-ins.
Immediate 24/7 crisis support for victims of family or sexual violence is available by phone through VictimLink BC’s 24/7 telephone service. This service also provides information and referrals for all victims of crime.
Many phone and online counselling, support programs, and treatment and healing centres are available virtually for Indigenous people across B.C.
Effective immediately, many provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to September, 30 2020.
Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until September 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt.
See Notice 2020-002, Covid-19 Sales Tax Changes for more information
The following tax changes announced in Budget 2020 will be postponed until further notice:
Carbon tax rates will remain at their current levels until further notice. The tax measure announced in Budget 2020 aligning the carbon tax rates with the federal carbon pricing backstop is also postponed until further notice.
The Province is providing an additional $1.7 billion in funding to critical services:
The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the BC Arts Council recognize the immense and unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having, and will likely continue to have, on the B.C. arts and culture sector, including impacts on our funded projects and organizations.
To help address these impacts, they’ve made significant updates to their policies and programs and have created an FAQ for grant recipients and applicants.
In making these changes, they have been guided by four key objectives, to:
The most up-to-date information will always be posted on the FAQ page and also be available on individual program web pages. Updates will also be announced on the BC Arts Council Facebook, and Twitter accounts.
Access COVID-19 FAQs for Arts and Culture Grant Recipients & Applicants
COVID-19: Federal Aid Update
Alberta's Response to COVID-19
COVID-19: New Global Tax Deadlines
COVID-19: Business Resilience during a Pandemic