Explainer: The B.C. Recovery Benefit

Applications open to receive a ‘one-time, tax-free payment’ from the provincial government

(Kristen Frier)

Starting Dec. 18, eligible families can receive up to $1,000, and individuals can receive up to $500 from the B.C. Recovery Benefit with applications open until June 30, 2021.

Promised during the provincial election campaign, and officially announced on Dec. 8, the benefit is rolling out during the holiday season to help families during the months when bills and expenses tend to climb.

“With the weather growing colder and the holidays approaching, we know this can be an especially hard time for people. Colder weather can mean the need to spend more on clothing, or home heating, or finding extra gift money for the people that we love,” said Finance Minister Selina Robinson in a media release.

The amount of the one-time payment will depend on a family or individual’s 2019 income, with higher-income households or individuals receiving reduced financial support.

Families and single parents with a net income of up to $125,000 are eligible to receive $1,000, while those with a net income of up to $175,000 will receive a reduced benefit.

Individuals with a net income of up to $62,500 are eligible for $500, and those making up to $87,500 are eligible for a reduced benefit, as well.

To be eligible, applicants must be living in B.C., be at least 19 years of age, have filed a 2019 Canadian personal income tax return, and have a social insurance number, individual tax number or temporary tax number.

Similarly, individuals will need to provide their net income from their 2019 tax return, their social insurance number, or individual or temporary tax number, driver’s license number, and direct deposit information.

Family and individuals can refer to the specific eligibility criteria on the B.C. government information page to clarify their eligibility.

Up to 3.7 million British Columbians will be eligible to receive the tax-free benefit, said Robinson.

The B.C. Liberal party suggested in a news release that, because the benefit is based on 2019 income, it may not consider how families or individuals could be in a lot more dire situation than they were last year when there was more job security.

However, if the B.C. Recovery Benefit relied on 2020 income tax data, it wouldn’t be possible to send out payments until around fall next year, says the B.C. Recovery Benefit information page.

“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,” said Mike Bernier, B.C. Liberal Finance Critic, in the news release.

The Recovery Benefit is a fulfilment of the B.C. NDP’s election promise from earlier this fall when Premier John Horgan proposed a one-time payment to “ease the financial impact of COVID-19 for people in British Columbia who have been hit the hardest.”

For more details on the B.C. Recovery Benefit, and to apply on Dec. 18, visit the information page on the B.C. government website.

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