B.C. NDP finance critic Mike Bernier speaks in the legislature, Feb. 13, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. NDP finance critic Mike Bernier speaks in the legislature, Feb. 13, 2020. (Hansard TV)

Big holes in NDP’s COVID-19 Christmas bonus plan, B.C. Liberal says

Applications based on 2019 income, late budget delays further aid

Lots of people need extra money to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and income losses, but the NDP government’s Christmas bonus program is poorly targeted and may miss those who need help most, B.C. Liberal finance critic Mike Bernier says.

Finance Minister Selina Robinson tabled legislation Tuesday to delay a full budget until as late as April, and give the government another $2 billion in spending authority to pay for its $1,000 “B.C. recovery benefit.” Robinson also revealed that there will be an online application process that opens Dec. 18, a step not mentioned since Premier John Horgan announced the payments as an election promise in October.

Bernier said one big flaw is that the province has to use 2019 income data to decide who qualifies for a program that pays $1,000 to families with income up to $125,000, and $500 for single individuals who made up to $67,500 last year. Reduced payments are to go to families earning up to $175,000 and individuals making up to $87,000, but the reductions have not been detailed.

“For the most part it’s a blank piece of paper,” Bernier told reporters from the legislature Dec. 8. “It’s the government trying to make good on an election promise with no information at all for the public to determine if they will qualify and what they will get.”

The NDP election platform cost estimate of $1.45 billion has now jumped to somewhere under $2 billion, on top of the $5 billion the legislature authorized for COVID-19 assistance this spring. Robinson said payments of $150 are being added for people who receive income and disability assistance, on top of the base benefit.

RELATED: B.C. delays 2021 budget, moves to borrow $2B more

RELATED: B.C. tourism, small business assistance ‘coming soon’

Bernier would not say if the B.C. Liberal opposition would vote for the payment program, expected to be pushed through the legislature as soon as this week in an effort to get money out to people by Christmas. That comes before a still-unspent $1.5 billion in business aid approved in spring, and could leave the most deserving out, he said.

“You could have an individual who was working at a sawmill last year, working in the oil and gas sector last year making $80,000 as an individual,” Bernier said. “If they lost their job in February, they are going to have a hard time making their mortgage payments. Because they were working last year, they won’t qualify. That is completely inappropriate if we are genuinely going to be helping people who need it now.”

Delaying the provincial budget until as late as April also restricts the government’s ability to come up with better-targeted assistance before May, he said.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureBC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Columbia Search and Rescue called in the Nelson Search and Rescue and Kootenay Valley Helicopters to provide a long line rescue. Photo: BCSAR submitted.
Long-line rescue needed for injured hiker near Trail

Members of South Columbia and Nelson SAR and Kootenay Valley Helicopters did a long-line evacuation

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Chris Kobelka
Trail Smoke Eaters recruit top prospects

Trail Smoke Eaters building for future in 17-year-old defencemen Joel Barton and Chris Kobelka

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Energy consultant Michèle Deluca and city building inspector Sam Ellison are researching how to account for embodied carbon when calculating a new building’s carbon footprint. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson researches climate impact of embodied carbon in new buildings

Embodied carbon is the footprint of the manufacture and transport of building materials

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

People walk along a pedestrianized zone of Sainte-Catherine street in Montreal, Monday, May 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. Newly released statistics point to a major drop in police-recorded crime during the first eight months of the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Crime down in first 8 months of pandemic, but mental health calls rise: StatCan

The agency says violent crimes such as assault dropped significantly

Cowichan Tribes chief Squtxulenhuw (William Seymour) confirmed the first death in the First Nations community from COVID-19. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes confirms 1st death amid growing COVID-19 outbreak

Shelter-in-place order has been extended to Feb. 5

(Pixabay)
B.C. teacher gets 1 day suspension after ‘aggressively’ throwing dumbbell at student

Documents show the weight would have hit the student if they didn’t catch it

Most Read