Over the coming weeks, COVID-19 will impact the jobs and livelihoods of countless British Columbians. In these trying times, I would like to take this moment to highlight some of the supports the provincial government is putting in place to help those most impacted and what we can all do to help support our communities while continuing the fight against this pandemic.
To support renters who may have just lost their jobs, the province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement as well as halting evictions and freezing rents. The new rental supplement will provide British Columbians with up to $500 a month toward their rent for the next four months. For more information on the rental supplement, you can learn more through the government news release, or access the BC Housing website.
Seniors are some of the most at-risk citizens during this health crisis, which is why the province is also funding the expansion of BC-211 service into the Interior and northern B.C. This province-wide information and referral service will match seniors — whose support networks have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak — with volunteers to help with basic needs such as grocery shopping, pharmacy drop-offs and check-ins. To learn more about BC-211 or how you can help, please check out the BC-211 website.
The province is also providing the United Way of the Lower Mainland with $50 million to bolster seniors’ supports at community service agencies throughout British Columbia. If you would like to volunteer for seniors in your community, I strongly recommend you check their website for more information. Our local community groups such as the Salvation Army and Rotary club are also volunteering to help pick up groceries and prescriptions for people currently unable to do so. In the Fort St John area text, or call Carina at 250-794-1606, or reach out to me.
A $3-million emergency grant is also going to Food Banks British Columbia, who will distribute the money among food banks province-wide to support their immediate needs to buy and distribute food, pay employees, and cover other costs essential to the delivery of their food programs. I encourage everyone who can to donate to their local foodbank whenever possible, but please practice physical distancing and proper health etiquette when handling and dropping off food. For general information, call 1-888-COVID 19, Health questions call 811, or check out www.bccdc.ca.
Finally – as kids were set to return to the classroom today, we wade into more unchartered territory. It will be a challenging time for all of us, myself included with two kids in school. Have patience with the kids – they have as much anxiety around this as we do. Teachers will be reaching out to families soon to discuss what learning will look like for the next while. We will all be learning new things!
Once again, I would like to thank all our frontline workers for their tireless efforts to keep us safe in these difficult times. Together, we will all get through this.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.