BY MIKE BERNIER
BC Liberal MLA for Peace River South and Opposition Critic for Finance
OVER the past few weeks, I have heard from hundreds of British Columbians who are frustrated and worried — sometimes to the point of tears — by the delays to the BC Recovery Benefit. People struggling to make ends meet because of COVID-19 were originally comforted to hear the government would be providing some relief — but as so many have told me, the process of applying for the benefit has provided nothing but stress.
The benefit was originally an election commitment from John Horgan and he said it would be direct deposited into people’s bank accounts by Christmas. When the legislation was introduced in December, our BC Liberal MLAs voted in favour of these funds, as we know there are many who need help now. In turn, we were guaranteed the money would flow quickly but for many, it hasn’t.
Reccently, we saw there were still more than 430,000 people whose applications were stuck in a lengthy review process with next to no communication from the Ministry of Finance about what was causing the delays or how long applicants would have to wait for their money. The silence from the Ministry, and the rest of the NDP for that matter, is causing immense frustration for those who saw this payment as a lifeline. Many have expressed anger about the lack of help from local NDP MLAs. They say if they are even lucky enough to receive a response from their MLA, they are being told there is no way they can help.
The only consistent response from the NDP is to tell British Columbians to be patient, which shows a complete lack of understanding of the financial situations of so many who applied for the benefit and who were counting on it. It is hard to be patient when you need to pay your rent on time, or buy groceries to feed your family, or pay off credit card bills from the holidays. These things have real deadlines and people trusted the NDP when they said they would provide relief by Christmas. It’s time for this government to actually listen to British Columbians and deliver on their promises. People cannot afford to be patient much longer.