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

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate Nina Bumstead. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Grad ceremony proceeds, with a twist

Red carpet outside works out well for Chemainus Secondary’s Class of 2021

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Chemainus street signs now contain Hul’qumi’num translations, like this one at the corner of Willow and Legion Streets. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Street signs go up in the Hul’qumi’num language

Chemainus intersections feature direct translations

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

Most Read