BC Liberal Finance Critic Mike Bernier on Tuesday raised concerns about the NDP’s COVID-19 Recovery Benefit, which he said was introduced with no plan for long-term economic recovery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on our province and there is no question that government needs to provide families and businesses with relief, however, we need to make sure the right relief is going to those who need it most,” said Bernier, MLA for Peace River South. “Without an economic recovery plan, [Premier] John Horgan is essentially telling B.C. families that they will have to stretch this one-time payment through to May of next year.”
The B.C. Recovery Benefit of $500 for individuals and up to $1,000 for families was promised by Horgan as part of the NDP platform in the recent election. In addition to the $2 billion supply bill tabled in the legislature, the Government is also proposing legislation that would delay the Provincial Budget to April 30. This means that people and businesses in B.C. will have to wait until May of 2021 for an economic plan and any government supports to come with it, the BC Liberals said.
“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 Bernier. “Short term relief is a piece of the puzzle, but we need government to provide real answers on what they are going to do next. The people of B.C. will still need support long after they have spent the $500 benefit.”
The B.C. Recovery Benefit payment eligibility will be determined based on 2019 tax returns. This means that people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not have their current employment status considered in their application, the BC Liberals said..