BC Government’s COVID-19 Action Plan

The province of British Columbia has announced a COVID-19 Action Plan to help support people and businesses. The plan dedicates $2.8 billion to help people and $2.2 billion to provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak. Minister Carole James said the plan is the first step to address immediate needs and the government’s response will evolve as the situation evolves.

Supporting People

A new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax free one-time $1000 payment to residents whose ability to work has been affected during this crisis. This new benefit is available to BC workers who are receiving Federal EI benefits or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

The Action Plan also adds to the BC Climate Action Tax credit and includes support for non-profits, service delivery agencies and child care providers. The province is freezing all BC student loan payments for 6 months effective March 30, 2020. British Columbians who need more time to pay their bills may apply to existing deferral programs at ICBC and BC Hydro.

Supporting Businesses

Under the BC Government’s COVID-19 Action plan for businesses, any business with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax.

The province is also extending the tax filing and payment deadlines for PST municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax until Sept. 30, 2020. The scheduled provincial carbon tax and new PST registration requirements will be on hold and will be reviewed by Sept. 30, 2020.

Business and light- and major-industry property classes will see their school tax cut in half. This is intended to provide $500 million in immediate relief for business that own their property and allow commercial landlords to immediately pass savings on to their tenants in triple-net leases.

The BC Government has allocated $1.5 billion for economic recovery. The recovery plan will dedicate funding to particularly hard hit areas of the economy such as: the tourism, hospitality and culture sectors.

Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.