BC Unveils Massive Economic Action Plan

Henrietta Strickland
March 25, 2020

"COVID-19 touches all of our lives and it also touches our economy", Premier John Horgan said today.

"There has to be hope as we get through these challenging times", he told a news conference at the legislature.

"There has to be hope as we get through these hard challenging times", said Horgan.

Later today, B.C.'s legislature will convene to address two pieces of legislation, including amendments to employment standards legislation to ensure workers can not lose their job due to self-isolation, or because they are caring for a loved one.

It will also pass a supply bill that allows the government to spend money before the full budget is passed.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said B.C.'s recent move to cancel elective and scheduled surgeries has increased the number of beds available at B.C. hospitals in anticipation of "things about to come".

"This plan is a starting point", she said. "It's going to have to evolve as the situation evolves".

The COVID-19 Action Plan is government's first step to provide relief to people and businesses in British Columbia.

"We know there's more to do".

The financial relief package includes $2.8 billion for residents and services, and $2.2 billion for businesses, the premier said.

It will include people who are laid-off, sick, quarantined, home with sick children, home while schools or child care centres are closed or caring for a sick family member. The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed.

British Columbians can expect a boost in their Climate Action Tax Credit coming in July 2020. James said families of four could receive up to $564 and individuals could receive up to $218. He said the B.C. plan supports people anxious about paying bills and staying afloat.

While the province has halted evictions for BC Housing funded buildings, now there is no onus on landlords to do the same.

The province is hitting the pause button on student loan payments until September 30 and BC Hydro customers can defer bill payments with no penalty. This includes $1.7 billion for critical services like the healthcare sector, in addition to funding for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic including those with disabilities.

Henry has previously issued orders banning gatherings of more than 50 people and closing bars, restaurants and personal service businesses, but has resisted more heavy-handed orders that could legally require people to stay home. Borders, including the one between Canada and the United States, are closed to non-essential travel.

Dix said the province had freed up more than 1,200 acute-care hospital beds since Friday.

The benefit will be available to those eligible for Employment Insurance, as well as new federal emergency supports. Anyone who's been unable to work because of the pandemic will qualify for a one-time payment of $1,000.

The main assistance for businesses comes in the form of deferrals of employer health tax payments, as well as extensions of filing deadlines and payments of several other taxes.

Globally there have been 372,563 confirmed cases and 16,381 deaths as of Monday afternoon.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a massive global disruption".

There have been three additional deaths over the past two days, bringing the total to 13.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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