B.C. reveals $5 billion aid during COVID-19 pandemic

Premier John Horgan revealed a $5 billion action plan to help British Columbians survive the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horgan said $2.8 billion will be spent on people and services, with the remaining $2.2 billion targeted towards businesses.

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“If we are going to get through this, we need to pull together,” said Horgan.

Horgan said there would be “critical funding for health services” and “targeted tax relief.”

The plan includes $1.7 billion for critical services, such as healthcare, housing and shelters, support for tenants, those on income assistance and businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic.

There will also be $1.1 billion in relief for people unable to work due to the virus, which will come in the shape of one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment via an extension of EI.

That payment would be on top of federal benefits announced last week by the Prime Minister.

“This plan is a starting point,” said B.C.’s finance minister Carol James.

James added that no one will lose their jobs due to self-isolation or if you are looking after someone who is.

However, James said that the $1,000 payment wouldn’t likely be available until May.

“People need help now...There has to be a way forward, there has to be hope,” said Horgan.

“In all of this sea of humanity, we must work together and pull together to come out of this as one.”

James said student loan payments would be deferred until September and that arrangements can be made for BC Hydro and ICBC payments to also be deferred for 90 days.

James added that $1.5 billion is also being set aside to help the province recover if and when the pandemic abates.

Business and light- and major-industry property classes will see their school tax cut in half. This will provide $500 million in immediate relief for business that own their property and allow commercial landlords to immediately pass savings on to their tenants in triple-net leases.

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