British Columbians can apply for one-time COVID recovery benefit this month

Selina Robinson, minister of finance, announced the passing of legislation for the B.C. COVID recovery benefit on Dec. 8. || Screen capture from live stream
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British Columbians will be able to apply for the COVID-19 recovery benefit starting Dec. 18 and can expect to receive direct deposit within days of applying. Up to 3.7 million people will be eligible for the benefit, according to the province.

“We know that making ends meet during the holiday season is a concern for many families, even without the added stress of a pandemic. These additional supports will mean B.C. families will have extra dollars to spend when they need it most,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. 

The benefit will provide a one-time payment of $1,000 to families with incomes under $125,000 a year, including single-parent families. Families that earn up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced amount.

Single people earning less than $62,500 will qualify for a payment of $500 and those who earn up to $87,500 can get a reduced amount.

Eligibility will be based on 2019 tax returns — Robinson said the large scope of eligibility will ensure people who need the benefit most will be able to get it.

“If we were to wait for the 2020 tax returns people wouldn’t get a benefit until much later and people need help now, so this is the best tool that we have to help us deliver a benefit to people who need it,” she said.

It is expected people will be able to receive the benefit before Christmas if they apply when online applications open — Robinson said payments should be direct deposited days after applying. She also said there will be a stringent verification process to reduce fraudulent claims.

People on income assistance, disability assistance and low-income seniors receiving the senior’s supplement will receive an additional recovery benefit of $150 per month from January to March, the province said in a news release.

“Coupled together, the recovery benefit and recovery supplement will provide vulnerable families with up to $1,900 during this difficult winter season,” said Nicholas Simons, minister of social development and poverty reduction.

Robinson said the benefit will not only help families and individuals, but also small businesses by giving people money to spend. 

“By putting this money in people’s pockets, they are going to spend it in their communities, whether it’s taking the family out for dinner because they haven’t had a chance to do that — and that’s going to help the local restaurants, or getting their $5 latte because they haven’t been able to,” she said.

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