Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year at the B.C. legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year at the B.C. legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Applications now open for B.C. Recovery Benefit, worth up to $1,000

90% of adults expected to get $1.7B in borrowed cash

The B.C. government has opened its application portal for its latest round of COVID-19 recovery payments.

The finance ministry opened application system Friday morning at gov.bc.ca/recoverybenefit, and initial attempts to call up the site showed a “server error” as the first of up to 3.7 million eligible B.C. adults began to claim it. Those who don’t have online access can phone a toll-free number, 1-833-882-0020, to apply starting Monday, Dec. 21.

The cost of sending $1,000 in borrowed money to almost all B.C. households, whether they lost income in the pandemic or not, has been revised upward.

It was costed at $1.45 billion in the NDP election platform, but Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s second-quarter update, delivered a month late this week due to the election, estimated it to be $1.7 billion. The “B.C. Recovery Benefit” pays $1,000 to families with 2019 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 in 2019.

Horgan acknowledged during the October campaign that the second round of payments was a late addition to the NDP platform for his snap election call, in response to a B.C. Liberal pledge to roll back B.C.’s seven-per-cent sales tax to zero for the coming year. B.C.’s first round of $1,000 COVID-19 relief payments was targeted to working adults who qualified for the the federal Canada Emergency Relief Benefit, which required proof of lost income as a result of the pandemic.

The B.C. Liberal opposition voted in favour of the latest round of payments in a brief session of the legislature that ended Thursday.

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