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

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Nanaimo area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Action at the Nanaimo Curling Centre. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo sports organizations qualify for COVID-19 relief funding

Province announces support for curling, rowing, gymastics, softball, rugby, squash, football clubs

FOI records provided to the News Bulletin from the City of Nanaimo in 2018. (News Bulletin file photo)
Samra’s numerous FOI requests to City of Nanaimo aren’t ‘vexatious,’ privacy commissioner decides

Former CAO says records will assist her in a future B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

The cost of potentially counting deer regionwide was among the issues that prompted Capital Regional District committee members to vote against pursuing a greater CRD role in deer management. (Black Press Media file photo)
Expanded deer management a non-starter for Greater Victoria

Capital Regional District committee maintains current level of support

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Aquaculture employee from Vancouver Island, Michelle, poses with a comment that she received on social media. Facebook group Women in Canadian Salmon Farming started an online campaign #enoughisenough to highlight the harassment they were facing online after debates about Discovery Islands fish farms intensified on social media. (Submitted photo)
Female aquaculture employees report online bullying, say divisive debate has turned sexist

Vancouver Island’s female aquaculture employees start #enoughisenough to address misogynistic comments aimed at them

Mowi Canada West’s Sheep Pass salmon farm, the company’s final B.C. operation to receive certification from the Aquaculture Steward Council. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is questioning a government decision to phase out salmon farms in the Discovery Islands. (Photo supplied by Mowi Canada West)
Canadian Federation of Agriculture backs B.C. salmon farmers

Letter to prime minister calls for federal “champion” for aquaculture growth

Most Read