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

Abbotsford football star Chase Claypool has signed an endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan brand. (Air Jordan website)
Abbotsford’s Chase Claypool signs with Nike’s Jordan brand

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School grad joins exclusive group of top athletes wearing Jumpman

Two people were in a vehicle that rolled over on Highway No. 1 near Lickman Road. They are now out of the vehicle. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vehicle rolls over on Highway 1 near Lickman Road in Chilliwack

Two people in SUV at time of collision in westbound lanes

The Oxford Senior Care private care home in Abbotsford is part of a COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project through the company Vantage. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford care home participates in COVID-19 contact-tracing pilot project

The Oxford Senior Care uses ‘wearables’ to track movements of staff and residents

The Abbotsford board of education said on Tuesday they are satisfied with how students and staff dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic from September to December.
Abbotsford board of education pleased with return to class during COVID-19

District officials thank staff and students for low number of infections and issues during pandemic

The Abbotsford News is looking forward to hearing the stories of some of Abbotsford’s unsung education heroes. (Getty Image)
Who are your Abbotsford education heroes?

We’re looking for stories of people who have gone above and beyond for students

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

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

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read