The B.C. government has opened applications for a one-time tax-free payment of $1,000 to people who have lost work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Online applications are open at gov.bc.ca/workerbenefit as of May 1. As of Monday, May 4, agents will be available by phone to assist people who need help applying, including those without internet access. A general support line is available at 1-855-955-3435, Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Requirements for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers include having been a resident of B.C. as of March 15, 2020, and meeting the eligibility rules for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Approval for CERB is required, even if the federal benefit has not yet been received.
Applicants for the B.C. benefit must not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance, and must have filed or agree to file a 2019 income tax return. The application requires a social insurance number and direct deposit information for your bank account.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said she expects high demand for the one-time payment, and it is coming from the $5 billion additional spending the B.C. legislature approved at an emergency session in March.
“Yes, we do expect that this will be well subscribed,” James said. “People are hurting right now, and that’s why we want to make sure people are aware they can apply.”
Premier John Horgan has scheduled a province-wide announcement for next week where he will describe the next steps for B.C.’s reopening of the economy. James said it will also include details on how more of the $5 billion fund will be allocated towards getting more businesses and people back to work.
Support efforts previously announced include an expansion of the B.C. climate action tax credit in July. The province says about 86 per cent of B.C. residents should receive the additional benefit.