COVID-19: British Columbia economic support programs

Current as of October 3, 2020.

03 October 2020

British Columbia economic support programs

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On March 18, 2020, British Columbia declared a provincial state of emergency under the province's Emergency Program Act.

The state of emergency has been in place since March 18, and has been renewed every two weeks since. The state of emergency will now be in place until at least end of the day of August 18, 2020.

On March 23, 2020, the Province of British Columbia announced a COVID-19 Action Plan. British Columbia 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. The plan dedicates $2.8 billion to help people and fund the services they need to weather the crisis; $2.2 billion will provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak.

On May 6, 2020, the Province of British Columbia announced BC's Restart Plan. Under B.C.'s Restart Plan, government will work closely with public health officials, businesses and labour organizations to lift restrictions in 4 phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public. WorkSafeBC has released guidelines for how employers are to resume operations during the BC Restart Plan. The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy has released the provincial parks and recreation sites reopening plan.

On June 24, 2020, the Province of British Columbia moved into Phase 3 of BC's Restart Plan.

On June 22, 2020, the Province of British Columbia introduced the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, legislation that will allow for the provisions created for citizens and businesses in response to the pandemic to be formalized and unwound as appropriate after the provincial state of emergency ends.

On July 22, 2020, Premier John Horgan announced that B.C. has secured up to $1 billion of additional funding from the federal government 50/50 contribution program, which will be targeted to address COVID-19 impacts and restart plans of local governments and public transit services.

B.C. has created the B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service program to help any businesses navigate the support and services offered by the provincial and federal governments. Advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Pacific time) at 1 833 254-4357.

In this section:

HEALTH CARE - BRITISH COLUMBIA

COVID-19 - Health Care Response

DESCRIPTION

The BC Ministry of Finance announced on March 23, 2020, that the province would dedicate $1.7 billion of the $5 billion Action Plan for critical services needed, including health care pressures, social services, housing and shelter supports, income and disability programs, and First Nation Health Authority.

LINKS

March 31, 2020 news update can be found here.

March 23 and 26, 2020 news update can be found here.

March 23, 2020 news release can be found here.

COVID-19 - MSP Response

DESCRIPTION

Health Insurance BC announced temporary measures to their Medical Services Plan in response to COVID-19. Some of the changes include waiving the three-month MSP coverage wait period and providing coverage to temporary foreign workers who would otherwise not be eligible for coverage.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

To see if you are eligible, click here.

LINKS

The Medical Services Plan - British Columbia Response to COVID-19 temporary measures can be found here.

Funding for the First Nations Health Authority

DESCRIPTION

Funding for the First Nations Health Authority will be boosted as a part of the Provinces Economic Response Plan, which dedicated $1.7 billion to critical services. The First Nations Health Authority is under this umbrella.

LINKS

The March 23, 2020 news release can be found here.

Virtual Mental Health Supports During COVID

DESCRIPTION

To support British Columbians of all ages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Province is expanding existing mental health programs and launching new services. This includes support for everyone, healthcare workers, youth, students, parents, seniors, victims of family or sexual violence, and Indigenous Peoples.

LINKS

Information on each resource, who it is for, and how to access it, can be found here.

First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day

DESCRIPTION

Virtual Doctor of the Day is a program that connects First Nations members and their families in remote communities to a doctor or nurse practitioner using videoconferencing.

LINKS

See here for the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program.

24/7 Clinician Helpline

DESCRIPTION

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced that B.C. has launched a 24/7 helpline for clinicians to provide health-care providers around B.C. with live, in-the-moment addiction medicine support, while they are treating patients. The 24/7 Addiction Medicine Clinician Support Line was launched on Tuesday, June 16, 2020, by the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU). The support line is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to provide rapid response for time-sensitive clinical substance-use inquiries.

LINKS

The June 16, 2020, news release on the B.C. Clinician Helpline can be found here.

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES - BRITISH COLUMBIA

COVID -19 Action Plan: BC's First Step to Support People, Businesses

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government has announced that $3.5 billion has already been spent for economic recovery.

The B.C. government has a further $1.5 billion in funds set aside for stimulus and economic recovery for the next phase of B.C.'s recovery plan.

In order to determine how to spend that $1.5 billion, the B.C. government is holding virtual town halls and asking British Columbians to complete an online survey. There are three main ways for people to share their ideas, experiences, and priorities. Feedback is welcome until July 21.

LINKS

The March 27, 2020 BC COVID-19: Supports for Small Businesses in BC compilation can be found here.

The March 23 and March 26, 2020, COVID-19 Action Plan: BC's first step to support people, businesses, can be found here

COVID -19 Action Plan - Provincial Tax Changes

DESCRIPTION

As part of BC's COVID-19 Action Plan, the BC government announced multiple provincial tax changes.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Not all changes have been announced; more information is coming soon.

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

Deferral of all Employer Health Tax Payments

DESCRIPTION

Effective March 23, 2020, businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until September 20, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax. This applies to:

  • Employers that declare bankruptcy or cease to have a permanent establishment in B.C. in 2020 on or before September 29, 2020; and
  • Employers required to make instalment payments won't need to make them until after September 30, 2020.

EHT 2020 quarterly installment dates are being extended to further support businesses.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

All businesses with a payroll over $500,000.

To contact the BC government about questions on this tax change:

Call: 1-877-387-3332

Email: ITBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

Information on how COVID has changed health tax payments can be found here.

For more information on the quarterly installment dates, see here.

Extension of Tax Filing and Payment Deadlines on Sales Taxes

DESCRIPTION

Effective March 23, 2020, tax filing and payment deadlines for the following sales taxes are all extended until September 30, 2020:

  • provincial sales tax;
  • municipal and regional district tax;
  • tobacco tax; and
  • motor fuel tax.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

To contact the BC government about questions on this tax change:

Call: 1-877-388-4440

Email: CTBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

Delayed PST Budget 2020 Tax Changes

DESCRIPTION

The following tax changes announced in the BC Budget 2020 will be postponed until further notice:

  • Eliminating the PST exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners or artificial sweeteners; and
  • Expanded registration requirements for Canadian sellers of goods, along with Canadian and foreign sellers of software and telecommunication services.

The province is delaying implementation dates to April 2021 for changes to PST, to help businesses and families through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

The BC Budget 2020 can be found here.

Delayed Carbon Tax Increase

DESCRIPTION

Carbon tax rates will remain at their current levels until further notice. The tax measure announced in Budget 2020 aligning the carbon tax rates with the federal carbon pricing backstop is also postponed until further notice.

Province is delaying the implementation dates to April 2021 for changes to carbon tax to help businesses and families through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

To contact the BC government about questions on this tax change:

Call: 1-877-388-4440

Email: CTBTaxQuestions@gov.bc.ca

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

Information on the Carbon Tax can be found here.

Additional information on the Carbon Tax can be found here.

For information about extended implementation dates, see here.

Reduced School Tax Rates for Businesses

DESCRIPTION

School tax rates for commercial properties (Classes 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) will be reduced to achieve an average 25% reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses, providing up to $700 million in relief.

This enhances the 50% reduction to the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for classes 4, 5, and 6 as part of B.C.'s COVID-19 Action Plan.

Commercial landlords will be able to immediately pass saving on to their tenants in triple-net leases.

Postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in class 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct. 1, 2020 to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

This intends to be relief for commercial property owners and tenants.

To contact the BC government about questions on this tax change:

Call: 1-888-355-2700

Email: RuralTax@gov.bc.ca

LINKS

March 23, 2020 news release can be found here.

Information on school tax rates can be found here.

Provincial Tax & Revenue Changes, last updated April 1, 2020, can be found here,

Climate Action Tax Credit

DESCRIPTION

As part of B.C.'s COVID-19 Action Plan, the B.C. government announced a one-time enhanced B.C. climate action tax credit payment for July 2020. As many as 86% of British Columbians will see some money from this enhancement.

This boosts the regular climate action tax credit payment of up to $112.50 per family of four and up to $43.50 per adult.

The one-time enhanced July 2020 payment also has an increased income threshold amount before the tax credit is reduced to zero. If you weren't previously eligible for the tax credit due to your income, you may be eligible for this one-time enhanced payment.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

If you're eligible for the B.C. climate action tax credit, you'll be eligible for the one-time enhanced July 2020 payment.

To see if you're eligible for the BC climate action tax credit, click here.

LINKS

For the March 31, 2020 update on the One-Time Enhanced July 2020 Payment for the Climate Action Tax Credit, click here.

BC Hydro Provides Support for Power Bills

DESCRIPTION

Small businesses that have been forced to close due to COVID-19 will have their power bills forgiven for three months. BC Hydro is waiving bills for these customers from April to June 2020.

Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50% of their bill payments for three months to the end of August 2020.

The average bill savings for small businesses who qualify will be $121 per month, so the average total bill savings will be $363.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Eligible customers can apply any time until June 30, 3030.

To be eligible for the COVID-19 Relief Fund for small businesses:

  • You need to be a business account holder and have had your account prior to March 31, 2020
  • Your account must be on the Small General Service (SGS) rate, which includes rate schedules: 1300, 1301, 1310, 1311, 1234 and 1205 (exclusions apply, see below)
  • You need to have closed your business for at least 14 consecutive days, ceased most operations, and are not earning any revenue due to a government order or because of a reduction in business due to COVID-19
  • You must upload information to demonstrate that your business is closed due to COVID-19, such a photo of the business being closed, a screenshot of the closure message on your business' website or social media channel, or a customer notification email or text message
To see the eligibility requirements and to apply, click here.

LINKS

April 1, 2020 New Release can be found here.

BC Hydro's Customer Update on all COVID-19 responses can be found here.

British Columbia's April 16, 2020, information on support for businesses unable to pay monthly bills can be found here.

BC Hydro for Medium and Large Business Customers; and for Industrial Business Customers

DESCRIPTION

For Medium and Large Business Customers:

Accounts on the Large General Service (LGS), Medium General Service (MGS) are eligible for interest-free bill deferrals and payment plans. Please speak to your Key Account Manager or with our customer service team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options

For Industrial Business Customers:

If you're an industrial customer receiving electricity at transmission voltage and on rate schedules RS1823 or RS1828, you can defer up to 50% of electricity use charges for three months. Qualifying mining customers can defer up to 75% of electricity charges, depending on commodity prices.

Deferred amounts must be repaid with interest. Please contact your Key Account Manager for more information.

ICBC Payment Deferral

DESCRIPTION

ICBC clients currently on a monthly Autoplan can defer their payments for up to 90 days with no penalty.

These changes are set to expire on August 30, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Residential and commercial customers currently on a monthly Autoplan payment.

Deferrals also available to commercial and fleet vehicles.

LINKS

Apply for ICBC payment deferral online.

Expiration of ICBC payment deferral.

FortusBC and Small Businesses

DESCRIPTION

For small businesses that have been forced to close, FortisBC will issue bill credits to offset any charges to their account while they have been unable to continue operating their business as usual. Businesses that are still open, but facing a slowdown in revenue, will not receive bill credits but can also receive bill deferral for the same 90-day period:

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Criteria to determine if your small business is eligible can be found here.

LINKS

FortisBC Customer Recovery Fund, that outlines options for small businesses, can be found here.

Phase 1 Support for Restaurants, Breweries, Wineries and Distillers

DESCRIPTION

Following the recommendation of industry leaders, restaurants are temporarily allowed to deliver liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal. These measures will remain in place until October 31, 2020.

Breweries, wineries and distillers are now authorized to use their establishments to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer to sell or donate.

Restaurants, breweries, wineries and distillers that have had to close as a result of the pandemic may still benefit from other tax measures and temporary supports available to businesses.

LINKS

For the July 15, 2020, news release on the extension, see here.

For the March 21, 2020, BC Policy Directive that allows the sale and delivery of packaged liquor for off-site consumption with the purchase of a meal, see here.

For the March 22, 2020, BC News Release that allows Increase in hand sanitizer production, see here.

Phase 2 Support for the Hospitality Sector, Including Tourism

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government will temporarily authorize the expansion of service areas, such as patios, to support physical distancing requirements and industry recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support businesses in their reopening efforts, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch (LCRB) will now permit food-primary, liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees, such as wineries, breweries and distilleries, to apply through a simplified online process to temporarily expand their service areas until Oct. 31, 2020.

The B.C. government issued an amended order for food and liquor service establishments that includes details on how establishments may create a safety plan for social distancing.

B.C. is expanding measures to support the restaurant and tourism industries, which have been hit particularly hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. B.C. is supporting these industries by approving a temporary wholesale pricing model that will allow liquor licensees to purchase beer, wine, and spirits as a reduced cost. The pricing model will be in place from the end of July, 2020, until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Submit an application for a temporary service area expansion here.

LINKS

For more on LCRB's policy directive, see here.

For the May 22, 2020, new release on patio and service area expansions, see here.

Closed Hospitality Businesses Permitted to Sell Liquor Stock During Pandemic

DESCRIPTION

The Province is providing temporary relief to hospitality licensees who have had to suspend their operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These licensees will be allowed to sell their existing liquor stock to other licensees who are still operating and/or to private liquor stores.

The authorization is set to expire on July 15, 2020. However, as the pandemic is an evolving situation, LDB will review this and other temporary authorizations as necessary.

LINKS

For the June 5, 2020, news release on selling liquor, see here .

For LDB's policy directive, see here.

Liquor Licenses Fee Extension & Deferral

DESCRIPTION

Temporary extension for liquor licences expiring between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020.

  • Extended licences must still be renewed prior to their new expiry dates
  • Renewal fees will be deferred until Sept. 30, 2020, and will continue to be calculated in accordance with the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Extensions will be applicable to most liquor licences, with the exceptions of licensee retail stores, special wine stores and wine stores with wine on shelf in grocery stores.

Eligible licensees whose licences fall within March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020 and who find themselves in financial need, may ask for support by emailing a request to LCRB_COVID19@gov.bc.ca.

LINKS

For more on LCRB's policy directive, see here.

Liquor Manufacturers to Sell From Off-Site Storage Facilities

DESCRIPTION

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch released a new policy directive, set to expire on October 31, 2020, that allows liquor manufacturers to deliver products directly to individual consumers from their registered off-site storage facilities, in addition to their on-site stores. Previously, liquor manufacturers were only permitted to deliver products stored off-site to hospitality customers, such as restaurants and pubs.

LINKS

For the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch's policy directive, see here.

Amended Cannabis Regulation

DESCRIPTION

B.C. has amended regulations for private cannabis retail store licensees. The changes include:

  • Allowing private licensees to sell non-medical cannabis products online for pickup in store;
  • Allowing for payments to be made on a website, app or by telephone;
  • Retailers must also include an age-verification tool in their online sales systems; and
Allowing private retailers with multiple stores to accept prepaid purchase cards (gift cards) at any of that licensee`s locations or through its online system.

LINKS

For the August 4, 2020, news release on the changes to the cannabis regulation, see here .

Support of Non-Profits and Service Delivery Agencies

DESCRIPTION

To support non-profits, service delivery agencies and child care providers, the Province will continue to provide funding even if these agencies are closed or their regular operations have been disrupted.

These centres are eligible to receive seven times their average monthly operating funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 75% of a group facility's average monthly operating expenses.

B.C. has also announced it is making changes to the Community Gaming Grants (CGG) program to make it easier for non-profit organizations to adapt and continue to provide vital services to British Columbians. The changes will help the many vulnerable people who are particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other changes to the CGG program provide flexibility in requirements; the ability to include new programs in an application to respond to COVID-19 specific needs; and guidance on how to apply for grants given current uncertainty about whether programs such as annual fairs may be postponed or cancelled.

LINKS

March 23, 2020 news release can be found here.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Support for Sport Sector

DESCRIPTION

The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, announced that starting in April 2020, the Province, through viaSport, will provide provincial, disability and multi-sport organizations with the ability to access $5 million, which represents 50% of their annual 2020-21 provincial funding allocation, to provide these organizations with access to cash flow sooner.

BC Arts Council is also providing up to $15,000 in one-time Arts and Culture Resilience Supplements to Operating Assistance clients and eligible client projects.

Existing Creative BC clients can continue to make claims in final reports for cancelled activities and travel.

The B.C. Arts Council has announced more support for Island arts, Interior arts, Norther arts, and Lower Mainland arts as part of the province's response to COVID-19. After advancing 50% of operating funding immediately in April, the BC Arts Council is distributing the remaining 50% to organizations this July.

The B.C. Arts Council also launched a microgrant pilot program to support artists to continue to make art and develop their practice during the pandemic. Until June 30, 2020, artists and cultural practitioners can apply for up to $1,500 to help adapt to changes in the sector.

LINKS

The June 12, 2020, news releases on the Island arts, Interior arts, Norther artsand Lower Mainland arts, can be found here.

More information on the microgrant pilot program can be found here.

The April 1, 2020 news release can be found here.

The March 26, 2020 BC Arts Council Grant Recipients new release can be found here.

More information from the BC Arts Council can be found here.

Make a Creative BC claim here.

Amateur Sport Organizations

DESCRIPTION

B.C. announced new protections for amateur sport organizations and their representatives from damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from COVID-19 for amateur sports. BC has passed a ministerial order shielding minor sports organizations, officials and volunteers from legal liability as a result of COVID-19. Premier Horgan said the announcement would help encourage people to get outside and be active, as many of these organizations have heard from insurers that they would not get insurance for COVID-19-related liability during the pandemic.

LINKS

For the June 10, 2020, announcement, see here.

For the Ministerial Order protecting minor sports organizations, see here.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture for the Tourism Industry

DESCRIPTION

B.C. is providing $10 million in grants to 59 community destination marketing organizations to support their efforts to show British Columbians the amazing travel opportunities available right here at home.

On September 17, 2020, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture released a statement about the impact BC’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan will have on BC’s tourism industry. The plan includes a new Tourism Task Force, investments into municipalities and tourism development partnership initiatives, infrastructure funding and grants for small businesses, among other measures.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Only the fifty-nine B.C. community destination marketing organizations will receive the grant.

LINKS

The May 25, 2020, news release can be found here.

Showcase BC Grant Program

DESCRIPTION

The new Showcase BC music funding program offers one-time micro-grants of $500 to emerging artists and $2,000 to established artists for livestreaming, songwriting and professional development.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

BC artists who have previously submitted complete and eligible applications to:

No application is required.

LINKS

Learn more about the Showcase BC Grant Program here.

Sustainability of the Existing Rent Bank Network

DESCRIPTION

As part of B.C.'s poverty reduction strategy, the Province provided $10 million to Vancity to administer funding and ensure the sustainability of the existing rent bank network.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Vancity Credit Union

LINKS

The March 23, 2020 news release can be found here.

WorkSafeBC Payment Deadlines Postponed

DESCRIPTION

WorkSafeBC is postponing the payment deadline for Q1 2020, in light of the uncertainty and challenges many employers are facing during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

LINKS

The March 26, 2020 news release can be found here.

Rent Relief on the way for B.C. Small Businesses

DESCRIPTION

Launching in mid-May 2020, the CECRA will see B.C. small businesses receive a total of over $300 million in federal-provincial relief, with B.C. contributing an estimated $80 million.

The 75% reduction in monthly rent for small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be achieved by providing forgivable loans to cover 50% of the rent payments for eligible small business tenants for April, May and June.

LINKS

For more information, see B.C.'s April 24, 2020, news release.

For information on the federal support for businesses, see here.

Commercial Tenancy (COVID-19) Order to Protect Small Businesses from Eviction

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government issued a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) that restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property.

Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments through to the end of June 2020, as determined by the federal program timelines.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

This order applies to any lease between a tenant and a landlord who is not eligible for assistance under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program in respect of that tenant for the sole reason that the landlord has not, as required to be eligible for the program, entered into a rent reduction agreement with the tenant that includes a moratorium on eviction.

LINKS

For the June 1, 2020, news release, see here.

To read Ministerial Order No. M179, the Commercial Tenancy (COVID-19) Order, see here.

Farmers' Markets Online and at the Market

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government is providing $55,000 to the B.C. Association of Farmers' Markets (BCAFM) to cover fees for individual farmers markets to join the online platform and set up their digital market store presence.

In addition to physical farmers markets this year, the BCAFM is also helping to provide people with locally grown and prepared food products through a new online platform.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

B.C. Farmers.

LINKS

As markets join and become ready to sell online to communities they will be listed here.

Supporting BC Companies, Societies, and Co-Operatives

DESCRIPTION

Electronic meetings will be allowed during the Province's state of emergency.

Each company, society and cooperative will need to consider which meeting method best suits their needs, as long as each participant is able to communicate and vote, if needed.

LINKS

As markets join and become ready to sell online to communities they will be listed here.

Forest Sector

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government is deferring the stumpage fee for three months.

The deferral will leave eligible companies with an estimated $80 million so they can pay employees, pay contractors and pay other bills needed to keep their doors open or reopen them faster.

Additionally, The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development announced changes to the Manufactured Forest Products Regulation and the Coast-wide implementation of the variable fee-in-lieu of manufacture on log exports that were scheduled to come into force on July 1,2020, are now postponed until Sept. 30, 2020, and December 2020, respectively.

Additionally, B.C. announced on June 16 that the province will focus on mass timber to support forest workers and the bounce-back of the B.C. economy.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

The deferral with interest is available to Tree Farm Licence, Replaceable Forest Licence and First Nations' Woodlands Licence holders who are in good financial standing with the Province. They also must be following through on their reforesting obligations.

LINKS

The April 30, 2020, BC News Release can be found here.

The June 9, 2020, news release for additional help to the forest sector can be found here.

Logging Tax

DESCRIPTION

The BC logging tax return filing deadline has been extended and is now due by June 1, 2020.

Penalties and interest won't be charged if the deferred payment requirements are met by the extended filing deadline.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Logging tax applies to individuals or corporations that have income from logging operations on private or Crown land in B.C.

LINKS

For more information on the Logging Tax deferral changes, see here.

Temporary Foreign Farmworkers Must Self-Isolate

DESCRIPTION

All temporary foreign workers arriving in B.C. for seasonal farm work are required to self-isolate in government-managed accommodations for 14 days before being transported to their farm

Host farm operators must ensure a safe workplace and demonstrate a proof of an infection control protocol

LINKS

For more information on the requirements for farms and foreign farmworkers, see this April 22, 2020, news release.

Ministry of Agriculture's Response to COVID-19

DESCRIPTION

Ag Safe BC has developed templates to assist agricultural employers in building their Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Program during COVID-19. Employers are encouraged to customize these documents to fit their individual operation's needs when building or enhancing their OHS Program.

LINKS

See here for the April 29, 2020, news release.

BC Agriculture-Business Planning - COVID-19 Business Recovery Plan

DESCRIPTION

Agriculture, seafood, and food processing businesses in British Columbia can begin to access consulting and planning services to help with COVID-19 response and recovery.

COVID-19 Business Recovery Plan

This program offers up to $5,000 in business planning services and coaching for individuals and up to $20,000 for groups, from a qualified business consultant, to develop an immediate and long-term recovery plan.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

You are eligible if you are a business entity including sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations or other associations of persons (including cooperatives) who meet the following three eligibility criteria:

1) You have been impacted by an external event such as COVID-19 which reduces your revenue by at least 30%.

2) You are either:

  1. Primary Agriculture and/or Seafood Producers (aquaculture and commercial fisheries)
    1. Producing fresh food, or agricultural and seafood products which are 100% grown, caught, or raised in B.C.
    2. You reported total annual gross revenues greater than $30,000/year in the previous year to Canada Revenue Agency
  2. Agriculture, Food and Beverage, and/or Seafood Processors
    1. Processing food, beverage, or agricultural and seafood products which are processed and packaged in B.C. with 51% or more of the direct cost of producing the product in its final form (i.e. the sum of raw materials, direct labour, variable processing, and packaging) originating in B.C. When the main raw materials are available in sufficient quantities from B.C. producers, they must be used.
    2. You reported total annual gross revenues greater than $30,000/year in the previous year to Canada Revenue Agency
3) You, as the owner(s) of the business, are a resident(s) of British Columbia

LINKS

Applications for the BC Agri-Business Planning Program is now open. All of the information on how to apply and what is offered is found here.

See here for the May 15, 2020, news release.

Insurance & Income Protection for Farmers and Ranchers

DESCRIPTION

These programs already existed prior to COVID-19.

The Governments of Canada and British Columbia provide a number of programs to help protect B.C. farmers' and ranchers' incomes.

  • AgriStability provides support when producers experience a large margin decline
  • AgriInvest provides cash flow to help producers manage income declines
Production Insurance provides cost-shared insurance against natural hazards to reduce the financial impact of production or asset losses. The Western Livestock Price Insurance program will continue to play an important role in protecting incomes

LINKS

See here for the April 29, 2020, news release.

To learn more about AgriStability support, see here.

To learn more about AgriInvest support, see here.

To learn more about Production Insurance, see here.

Property Taxes and Existing B.C. Farm Operations

DESCRIPTION

B.C. is waiving minimum income requirements for existing B.C. farm operations, allowing them to maintain their current property tax farm status for 2021.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

In order to be classified as a farm in B.C., properties must meet certain criteria, including generating a minimum amount of gross income from a qualifying agriculture use based on the size of the parcel of land. This minimum income requirement must be met every two years and there must be some income generated every year.

LINKS

See the July 29, 2020, news release on minimum requirements on farm status here.

For further information on farm class assessment, visit BC Assessment here.

Connecting People with Jobs in BC's Agricultural Sector

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector site provides British Columbians with access to a new online resource that will make it easier to learn about jobs and careers in agriculture, while providing farmers, seafood businesses and food processors with a one-stop shop to support their hiring and planning needs.

LINKS

The B.C. Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector site can be found here.

The May 28, 2020, news release can be found here.

Commercial Truck Drivers

DESCRIPTION

Food trucks are being set up at provincially owned locations throughout B.C. to support commercial truck drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LINKS

For the April 28, 2020, news release see here.

BC Animal Care Facility Operators

DESCRIPTION

The Ministry of Agriculture will work with B.C. animal care facility operators to identify instances where emergency funding may be applicable. Funding will be available for animal hygiene, habitat upkeep, veterinarian care, limited transportation and repairs to equipment required to ensure the welfare of the animals in care.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

To inquire about eligibility for funding, email: BRMB.General.Inquiries@gov.bc.ca

LINKS

For the April 28, 2020, news release see here .

Oil and Gas Service Companies -

DESCRIPTION

Workers in oil and gas service companies will be hired to restore more than 2,000 orphan and inactive wells, supporting upwards of 1,200 jobs.

On April 17, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $120 million for B.C. to support cleaning up oil and gas sites. Subject to reaching final agreement with Canada, the Province intends to invest this funding in three new programs:

  • The Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will provide $100 million to reclaim dormant oil and gas sites, which are wells that have been inactive for five consecutive years and are unlikely to be returned to service. This program will provide up to $100,000, or 50% of total costs, whichever is less.
  • The Orphan Sites Supplemental Reclamation Program will provide $15 million to reclaim orphan oil and gas sites where the operator is insolvent, no longer exists or cannot be located. This program will be administrated by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) and will be in addition to $27 million in planned BCOGC clean up of such wells for 2020-21.
The Legacy Sites Reclamation Program will provide $5 million to address the legacy impacts of historical oil and gas activities that continue to have environmental impacts, such as on wildlife habitat or on the traditional use by Indigenous peoples.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Applications for the Dormant Sites Reclamation Program will be accepted beginning May 25.

LINKS

For the May 13, 2020, news release see here.

More information on the BC Oil & Gas Comprehensive Liability Management Plan can be found here.

COVID-19 Guidance to the Hotel Sector

DESCRIPTION

After BC announced the Restart Plan, certain sectors made plans to open their doors for business. BC has issued interim guidance for the operators of hotels, motels, hostels, inns, and other forms of travel accommodation for preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

LINKS

For the document provided by BC on interim guidance to operators of hotels, motels, hostels, inns, and other forms of travel accommodation, see here.

Buy BC e-commerce Funding

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government is providing $300,000 to support industry-led Buy BC e-commerce activities. The funding is under the Ministry of Agriculture's Buy BC Partnership Program. It helps farmers, ranchers and food and beverage processors market their products as locally grown, raised, harvested or produced, making it easy for British Columbians to Buy BC.

Each successful applicant is eligible to receive up to $5,000.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

The funding is available to B.C. farmers, and food and beverage processors of all sizes.

To be eligible, an applicant must have at least two years of business revenues, be licensed to do business in B.C. and be growing or processing one or more products in the province.

Online applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, from May 15 to May 29, or when the funding is fully subscribed. The provincial government's Buy BC Partnership Program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia. For Buy BC application details, visit: https://iafbc.ca/buy-bc/

LINKS

See here for more Buy BC e-commerce funding details.

See here for more details about Buy BC.

See here for Funding helps BC Farmers' Markets Online.

See here for the May 12, 2020, news release.

Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement

DESCRIPTION

BC Arts Council Arts and Culture Resilience Supplement provides existing operating assistance clients and eligible project clients with up to $15,000.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Existing (operating assistance) clients, eligible project clients

LINKS

See more details about BC Arts Council Programs here.

Supporting B.C.'s Music Industry Through COVID-19

DESCRIPTION

To help people in B.C.'s music industry continue to create and operate during the pandemic, the B.C. government is investing $7.5 million through Creative BC for Amplify BC.

LINKS

Visit Creative BC for up-to-date information on Amplify BC funding programs, launch dates and deadlines.

For the June 1, 2020, news release on B.C. supporting the music industry, see here.

Enhanced Abilities for those in Industrial Camps

DESCRIPTION

B.C. issued a Class Order with respect to Industrial Camps, which rescinds and replaces her delegation of April 23, 2020. The Class Order is intended to provide protection for workers of Industrial Camps by giving certain classes of persons the enhanced ability to question certain persons, require documents to be produced, conduct inspections, collect information, and call on assistance of peace officers for the purpose of carrying out inspections or enforcing the Class Order.

LINKS

For the Class Order with respect to Industrial Camps, see here.

Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund Reopens

DESCRIPTION

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in partnership with BC, announced they are re-opening the Canadian Fish and Seafood Opportunities Fund (CFSOF) in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Launched in 2018, the CFSOF is a national cost-sharing federal, provincial and territorial program that helps the fish and seafood sector address new market-access issues and identify branding opportunities, in order to maximize the value of Canada's world-class fish and seafood.

LINKS

The June 24, 2020, news release on the reopening of the CFSOF can be found here.

BC is Amending its Business Corporations Act

DESCRIPTION

On July 2, B.C. announced that it is amending the Business Corporations Act to create the option of choosing a "benefit company" when choosing a corporate structure. A benefit company is a for-profit corporation committed to conducting its business in a responsible and sustainable manner, as well as promoting public benefits in addition to serving the interests of its shareholders. For example, the benefits could be artistic, charitable, cultural, economic, educational, environmental, literary, medical, religious, scientific and/or technological.

This idea, though on the table before the COVID-19 pandemic, is especially important now as B.C. works to build back from the impacts of COVID-19.

LINKS

The June 30, 2020, news release on the amendments can be found here.

The Business Corporations Act and the amendments can be found here.

Infrastructure B.C.

DESCRIPTION

Infrastructure Canada and the Province of B.C. announced they are investing in infrastructure to create jobs and support economic recovery in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In B.C. the new developments are found in the Lower Mainland, Central Interior, Northern B.C., and the Vancouver Island region.

LINKS

See these links for the new infrastructure developments per regions: the Lower Mainland, Central Interior, Northern B.C., and the Vancouver Island region.

Applications for Digital Marketing Bootcamp to Support People and Businesses

DESCRIPTION

The Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, Michelle Mungall, announced that Alarcity Canada is now accepting applications for a new virtual Digital Marketing Bootcamp that will support people and businesses as they move online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bootcamp will provide participants with a foundation in digital marketing, including search engine optimization (SEO), paid advertising, analytics, content marketing and more.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Registration is open until July 31, 2020, with the course starting on Aug. 4, 2020. The course will run for six weeks. To register, visit: www.alacritycanada.com/learn.

LINKS

To see the July 21, 2020, news release on the Digital Marketing Bootcamp, see here.

Arts Infrastructure Program

DESCRIPTION

The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced a $2-million Arts Infrastructure Program due to the impact COVID-19 has had on arts and culture venues.

The BC Arts Council will administer the program.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Arts and cultural organizations, including Indigenous groups, will be eligible for up to $75,000 to improve arts and culture spaces or $40,000 to buy special equipment to support art programming.

Applications will be open from Monday August 17 to October 19, 2020.

LINKS

For more information about the Arts Infrastructure Program, see here.

For details for applications here.

Support for the Community Social Services Sector

DESCRIPTION

On August 27, 2020, Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, announced $10 million in one-time funding from the Province to aid organizations and agencies in BC's community social services sector.

The funding will support training programs to agencies and organizations across the sector, including training and development for Indigenous agencies and Indigenous staff, foundational training and development opportunities, and occupational health and safety.

LINKS

For more information about support for the community social services sector, see here

Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund

DESCRIPTION

The Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund is to help small ship tour operators, Indigenous Nations, local communities and others participate in a $3.5 million cleanup of the shores of British Columbia's central coast. This cleanup also creates jobs and supports coastal communities as they recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn and its impacts on tourism.

LINKS

For more information about the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund, see here.

Broadway Subway Project

DESCRIPTION

The Government of British Columbia awarded the contract for the Broadway Subway project in Vancouver to the Broadway Subway Project Corporation, an Acciona-Ghella joint venture. The contract is valued at $1.728 billion. This project will help create jobs and growth as British Columbia recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LINKS

For more information about the Broadway Subway project, see here.

Construction and Operation of Hydrogen Fuelling Stations

DESCRIPTION

Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, announced that the British Columbia government has allocated $10 million to the construction and operation of ten hydrogen fuelling stations in the province, as well as three years of support for Hydrogen BC.

LINKS

For the September 10, 2020 news release, see here.

Stronger BC for Everyone: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan

DESCRIPTION

Premier John Horgan and Minister of Finance released Stronger BC for Everyone: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.

The plan outlines the latest steps that the province is taking to help people, businesses and communities recover from COVID-19. The plan includes $1.5 billion in economic recovery spending measures that respond to immediate needs.

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR INDIVIDUALS - BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time tax-free $1,000 payment for B.C. residents who lost income due to COVID-19. The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

The benefits will be a one-time, tax-free payment for B.C. residents who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), including people who have run out of employment benefits and now qualify for the CERB.

To be eligible for the BC Emergency Response Benefit, you must:

  • Be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit;
  • have been approved to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit;
  • be a resident of B.C. as of March 15, 2020;
  • have filed, or agreed to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return;
  • Be at least 15 years old on the date you apply; and
  • not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit can be found here.

Applications for the BC Benefit for Workers can be found here.

Application to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) can be found here.

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on BC Emergency Benefit for Workers can be found here.

April 16, 2020 information on BC delivering support for British Columbians can be found here.

Front-Line Workers Temporary COVID-19 Pandemic Pay

DESCRIPTION

More than 250,000 eligible front-line workers will receive temporary pandemic pay, a lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period, starting on March 15, 2020. Eligible workers will receive the payment directly through their employer and do not need to apply.

LINKS

To learn more about temporary COVID-19 pandemic pay, see here.

For the May 19, 2020, news release, see here.

Renters, Homeowners and People Experiencing Homelessness

DESCRIPTION

Funding for housing supports are increased to ensure people can maintain their housing in the event of job or income loss. This includes:

  • BC Housing has temporarily suspended evictions of tenants in subsidized and affordable housing due to non-payment of rent;
  • New annual rent increases are frozen during the state of emergency;
  • A temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month paid directly to landlords. It will be available to low to- moderate-income renters who do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs;
  • Landlords can restrict the use of common areas to protect against transmission;
  • Landlords may not access rental units without tenant consent, except in exceptional cases, and may not serve notices to tenants in person;
  • British Columbians who need additional support to pay their rent can access short-term and emergency loans from rent bank networks around the province;
  • Homeowners can contact their bank or mortgage lender to apply for up to six months of mortgage payment deferral; and
  • More than 900 spaces have been secured at 23 sites throughout B.C.'s health regions to help people isolate. Spaces at hotels, motels and community centres are assisting a range of people, including people experiencing homelessness, people without safe spaces to self-isolate and youth.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing released the details of a repayment framework for landlords and renters, to be put in place later this summer. The framework helps renters and landlords to transition and tenants in arrears to maintain their housing when the ban on evictions for non-payment of rent is lifted ahead of September 1, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program gives $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents, and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents. For more information, see information in the BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program, which is discussed in more detail in the next section.

Applications for the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program can be found here.

People can expect further information, including eligibility and the application process in April 2020.

LINKS

The July 16, 2020, news release on the repayment framework can be found here.

Information on changes to B.C.'s tenancy laws during COVID-19 can be found here.

Information on the BC Housing suspensions and subsidizations can be found here.

Information on COVID-19 Support for Renters and Landlords can be found here.

Information on COVID-19 and Tenancies can be found here.
April 16, 2020, information on British Columbia's support for renters, homeowners and people experiencing homelessness can be found here.

BC Temporary Rental Supplement (BC-TRS) Program

DESCRIPTION

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program gives $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents, and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents.
The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program is extended until August 31, 2020.

Rents in arrears from rent due during the specified period from March 18 to August 17, 2020 will have until at least July 2021 to pay back any rent owed, with the first repayments not starting until October 2020 at the earliest.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

The tenant must apply. The tenant must be eligible. Households need:
1. To have a 2019 gross household income of less than:

  • $74,150 for singles and couples without dependents; or
  • $113,040 for households with dependents;

2. As a result of COVID-19:

  • Be receiving or eligible for Employment Insurance; or
  • Be receiving or eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit offered by the federal government; or
  • Have experienced, and be able to provide evidence of, a drop of 25% or more in monthly household employment income.

3. Be paying more than 30% of current household income towards rent.
Applications for the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program can be found here.
Terms of repayment plan must include:

  • amount of outstanding rent;
  • start date of the repayment plan;
  • amount of each instalment; and
  • dates for each instalment.

The repayment instalments must begin at least 30 days after the date the plan is given by the landlord to the renter, and each monthly instalment must be paid on the same date the rent is due.

Renters who are still experiencing a loss of income may also be eligible for either the Rental Assistance Program or the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters Program, which provide ongoing rental subsidies for low- and moderate-income families and seniors.

LINKS

The June 19, 2020, announcement that the rental supplement is extended until end of August, can be found here.

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program Factsheet for Landlords can be found here.

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program Factsheet for Tenants can be found here.

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program Factsheet for Indigenous Nations can be found here.

The BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program (BC-TRS) FAQs can be found here.

Repayment Plan information can be found here.

BC Rent Bank

DESCRIPTION

Renters in some parts of B.C. can receive emergency help for rent payments and one-time interest-free loans through the BC Rent Bank.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

To receive the rental supplement, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Receiving or eligible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or experiencing a 25% reduction in monthly employment income as a result of COVID-19
  • 2019 household income of less than $74,150 for households with no dependents and $113,040 for households with dependents
  • Paying more than 30% of current/reduced gross monthly income towards rent
Not receiving any other rent subsidy from any level of government, including subsidized housing or rent supplements, such as Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) or the Rental Assistance Program (RAP)

LINKS

Apply for the rent supplement through B.C. Housing.

Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax Credit

DESCRIPTION

A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:

  • An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $43.50)
  • A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $12.75)

The previously scheduled credit increase effective July 2020 remains the same.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Moderate to- low-income families.

The enhanced B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit will automatically be provided in July 2020, combined with the federal GST/HST credit payment.

Many provincial and federal supports rely on up to date income tax filings. It is very important for individuals to file their income taxes so that they can qualify and receive their benefits as quickly as possible. The CRA has up-to-date guides on how to file your taxes quickly online.

LINKS

April 1, 2020 information on effective provincial tax changes can be found here.

April 16, 2020 information on BC delivering support for British Columbians can be found here.

Workers Leaves of Absence

DESCRIPTION

Employers must excuse workers for sickness without requiring a doctor's note.

Employees are allowed to take a leave of absence for specific reasons. Most leaves covered by B.C. employment standards are unpaid, but an employee's job is protected while they're on one. In most cases, an employee doesn't need to be employed for a certain amount of time to take leave.

The COVID-19 leave is retroactive to January 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in British Columbia.

Employer Responsibilities: If an employee is on a leave covered by the Employment Standards Act, their employment is considered continuous:

  • The employee continues to get any wage or benefit increases that they would normally receive.
  • Employers continue to make payments to benefit plans – unless the employee doesn't want to continue with a plan or if they take reservists' leave.
  • Employers continue to calculate annual vacation, termination entitlements, pension, benefits or length of service the same as if they normally would.

Workers who provide essential services in British Columbia cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19, as long as they are complying with orders from the provincial health officer and other authorities.

This order will remain in effect for as long as the state of emergency remains in place and applies only to situations related to COVID-19.

BC has also extended the temporary layoff provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks, expiring on August 30, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the maximum went from 13 weeks in any given 20-week period, to 16 weeks, to now a maximum of 24 weeks.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

An employee can take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 if they're unable to work for any of the following reasons:

  • They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are following the instructions of a medical health officer or the advice of a doctor or nurse.
  • They are in quarantine or self-isolation and are acting in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada), guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control or guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • Their employer has directed them not to work due to concern about their exposure to others.
  • They need to provide care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child for a reason related to COVID-19, including a school, daycare or similar facility closure.
  • They are outside of BC and unable to return to work due to travel or border restrictions

The Ministry of Labour and the Employment Standard's Branch released a new online application that makes the process of employers and workers extending temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 easier. To visit the website to apply for temporary layoff variances, see here.

For employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs beyond the August 30, 2020, expiry date, we remind them to apply for a variance using the Employment Standard Branch`s new online application by August 25.

LINKS

To visit the updated website for temporary layoff variance applications, see here.
The July 20, 2020, news release on online applications for extending employee layoffs can be found here.
The BC government's guidelines on leave of absences due to COVID can be found here.
The WorkSafBC resource can be found here.
The Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996 c 113 changed in response to COVID.
See here for the Employment Standards Act.
See here for the summary of changes to the Employment Standards Act.
British Columbia changes to the Employment Standard Act to better support workers both during COVID-19 and in the long term, information sheet can be found here.
The June 25, 2020, announcement extending the temporary layoff provisions can be found here.
Information on employment standards around temporary layoff can be found here.
Information on British Columbia protecting jobs during difficult times, last updated April 16, 2020, can be found here.

For Students

DESCRIPTION

Support for People with Student Loans

Starting March 30, 2020, BC student loan payments are automatically frozen until September 30, 2020.

Support for Post-Secondary Students

Students attending B.C.'s 25 public post-secondary institutions can apply for emergency financial assistance through their school's financial aid office.
Indigenous post-secondary students can also apply for support through the Indigenous Emergency Assistance Fund through their school's Indigenous student services.

School-based Wellness Programs and Supports

The BC Minster of Mental Health and Addictions announced that the province is boosting funds immediately for school-based wellness programs and supports by $2 million, topping up the $8.8 million investment over 3 years that was announced last September. This means that for the 2020-21 school year, school districts and independent school authorities will receive a total of $3.75 million to promote mental wellness and provide additional supports for students, families, and educators.

Supplying PPE to schools in BC

A one-time investment of $45.6 million as part of BC's COVID-19 Action Plan will fund the purchase of up to 1.5 million masks. Canadian Shield, a manufacturer of personal protective equipment products in Ontario, is donating an additional 54,500 face shields to schools in BC.

One-time Funding for 2020-21 school year

The federal government is providing $242.4 million in one-time funding for the 2020-21 school year. The funding will support school districts to hire and train more teachers and support staff for remote learning; purchase additional software licenses, electronic course materials and textbooks; purchase computer or tablets; and create Wi-Fi hubs and internet access in remote and Indigenous communities.

LINKS

March 26, 2020 Information Bulletin from StudentAid BC can be found here.
April 16, 2020, information on British Columbia's support for students can be found here.
September 4, 2020 information on British Columbia's school-based wellness programs and supports
For more information about supplying PPE to BC schools, see here.

For more information about the one-time funding for the 2020-21 school year, see here.

For LGBTQ2S+ Students

DESCRIPTION

Students from the LGBTQ2S+ community have more virtual opportunities to connect with each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time, B.C.'s Gay-Straight or Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meet-ups will be held virtually rather than in person, where students can join their friends online or over the phone.

LINKS

The April 26, 2020, news release can be found here.

For Indigenous Students

DESCRIPTION

The Ministry provides $4.3M for an Aboriginal Emergency Financial Assistance Fund to support Aboriginal students experiencing a short-term financial crisis. Each applicant can receive up to $1000.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Indigenous students at a Public post-secondary institution.

LINKS

For more information on the Aboriginal Emergency Financial Assistance Fund, see here.

For Seniors

DESCRIPTION

United Way Funding

$50 million in funding has gone to United Way to bolster seniors' supports in British Columbia, including services that help seniors stay in their homes, safely.

bc211 Funding

More funding has been given to bc211, a province-wide information and referral service that matches seniors with volunteers who can help with basic needs, including grocery shopping and pharmacy drop-offs.

Affordable housing for Kamloops seniors in 2021

Seniors will soon have more affordable homes in Kamloops on a 37-unit rental housing project. The Province is partnering with the City of Kamloops and ASK Wellness Society to building new homes that will provide one-bedroom units for seniors with monthly rents projected to range from $375 to $825. Residents are expecting to move into the building in fall 2021.

LINKS

Access United Way Support here.
Access bc211 here.

Access information on Kamloops seniors housing here.

For Seniors

DESCRIPTION

United Way Funding

$50 million in funding has gone to United Way to bolster seniors' supports in British Columbia, including services that help seniors stay in their homes, safely.

bc211 Funding

More funding has been given to bc211, a province-wide information and referral service that matches seniors with volunteers who can help with basic needs, including grocery shopping and pharmacy drop-offs.

LINKS

Access United Way Support here.

Access bc211 here.

For Senior's Long-Term Care and Assisted-Living

DESCRIPTION

B.C. is investing in a suite of initiatives to protect long-term care and seniors' assisted-living residents from COVID-19, as facilities begin allowing visitors. The Province is providing more than $160 million for facilities to hire up to three full-time equivalent staff in each of B.C.'s 680 long-term care homes and seniors' assisted living residences, including both public and private facilities. The Province will also provide $26.5 million for facilities to address costs that they incurred between March 1 and June 30, 2020.

LINKS

See here for the July 2, 2020, news release on investments to Seniors' care.

See here for the updated guidance for long-term care and seniors' assisted living facilities.

Youth Employment with BC Parks

DESCRIPTION

BC Parks is offering 25 employment positions through a $1.8 million Youth Employment Program (YEP) and 18 employment positions with the BC Conservation Officer Service. Both programs offer employment for young people interested in environmental management and conservation. The duties will range from public outreach and education, facility and trail maintenance, to invasive species removal and supporting conservation and recreation projects. 

LINKS

For information on Youth Employment Program positions in BC Parks, see here.
For more information on the Conservation Officer Service, see here.

For the August 5, 2020, news release on BC Parks and youth, see here .

For Rural, Remote, and Indigenous Communities

DESCRIPTION

In partnership between the First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health and Provincial Services Authority, a new collaborative framework has been developed to support communities and meet their unique needs, including:

  • improved medical transportation options to larger centres, including six additional ambulances in Northern Health and seven aircraft and helicopters for medical transport.
  • access to Virtual Doctor of the Day, which connects First Nations members and their families in remote communities to a doctor or nurse practitioner using video conferencing:
Faster COVID-19 testing methods, including GeneXpert test kits in First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health, Interior Health, Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.

LINKS

For a collection of the BC Government's resources for Indigenous people, see here.

For the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) dedicated COVID-19 website, see here.

Connecting BC Internet Funding

DESCRIPTION

Internet service providers throughout the province can apply for grants of up to $50,000 - or 90% of their expenses - to cover the cost of equipment, including antennas, electronics or other types of devices that relate to the performance or range of their network.

Grants will be funded through the existing Connecting British Columbia program.

Submissions will be reviewed on a first-come-first-served basis, with funding decisions made within three to five business days.

Internet service providers must complete their projects by June 30, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Rural, remote and indigenous communities.

Applications are now being accepted by Northern Development Initiative.

LINKS

To download the application form click here.

For more details about Connecting B.C. see here.

Free Counselling Services for Post-Secondary Students

DESCRIPTION

The Government of British Columbia has launched Here2Talk, a new mental-health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students.

The service offers confidential, free single-session services by app, phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Government is providing $1.5 million per year for this service.

The services are available in English, French, Punjabi, and Chinese.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Chat sessions with a trained counsellor can be accessed by downloading the Here2Talk app or visiting: here2talk.ca

Students can speak to a counsellor by phone, toll-free at 1 877 857-3397 or direct 604 642-5212. Students calling from outside Canada can dial 1 604 642-5212 (international calling charges may apply).

LINKS

For British Columbia's April 16, 2020, news release on the Free Counselling services, see here.

For British Columbia's April 17, 2020 news release on more online options for students to support social, emotional well-being, see here.

Monthly Bills - BC Hydro

DESCRIPTION

Customers can defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program.

Customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund.

Residential customers who have lost their job or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a bill credit of three times their average monthly bill. This credit does not have to be paid back. Eligible customers can apply for bill relief until June 30, 2020.

BC Hydro has halted all service disconnections for non-payment and cancelled all non-emergency planned power outages affecting its customers.

The average residential credit provided will be $477.

BC Hydro rates have been reduced by 1% effective April 1, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

All customers may apply to defer.

$600 Customer Crisis Fund is available for customers experiencing job loss, illness, or lost wages due to COVID-19.

Bill Credit of 3-times Average Monthly Bill is available for customers who have lost their job or are unable to work due to COVID-19.

LINKS

The April 1, 2020 news release can be found here.

March 13, 2020 news release of BC Hydro announcing the bill for customers affected by COVID-19 can be found here.

The Customer Crisis Fund can be found here.

Eligible customers who can apply for a bill credit of three times their average monthly bill can apply for bill relief until June 30, 2020, here.

Monthly Bills - ICBC

DESCRIPTION

Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.

ICBC has also made further changes to help ease the financial hardship of customers, for example by waiving the $30 cancellation fee and $18 re-plating fee for those people who choose to cancel their insurance during this time.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

All customers on a monthly plan.

LINKS

March 31, 2020 news release of ICBC's update on COVID-19 can be found here.

The ICBC Payment Plan Deferral Date Request can be found here.

ICBC's April 16, 2020, news release on further steps taken to reduce the financial burden for drivers during the pandemic can be found here.

Monthly Bills - FortisBC

DESCRIPTION

FortisBC has waived late payment fees and will ensure no customer is disconnected from the energy they need due to financial hardship at this time.

FortisBC has also set up a COVID-19 Customer Recovery Fund, which allows residential customers to automatically have their bills deferred from April 1 to June 30, 2020. A repayment schedule, free of interest or additional fees, will be set up and payments can be spread over a full year.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

All British Columbians.

LINKS

The FortisBC Customer Recovery Fund can be found here.

Support for People who use Public Transit

DESCRIPTION

As of March 20, 2020, TransLink suspended fares on all of its buses.

As of March 25, 2020, HandyDart, operated by TransLink, stopped collecting fares.

TransLink's scheduled fare increase for July 1, 2020, has been postponed indefinitely.

LINKS

April 16, 2020, announcement for support for people who use public transit can be found here.

Support for People on Income Assistance

DESCRIPTION

Everyone receiving income assistance and disability assistance who is not receiving employment insurance (EI) or the emergency federal support programs will automatically receive a $300 COVID-19 Crisis Supplement on their cheques distributed September 23, October 21, November 18, and December 16, 2020, starting in April. This includes people receiving the B.C. Senior's Supplement.

Those who receive income assistance or disability assistance who are receiving EI, including the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, will not receive the $300 COVID-10 Crisis Supplement. Earnings received through federal EI, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, are temporarily exempt. This means people will not see any deductions on their cheques due to EI.

LINKS

For the July 6, 2020, news release on the extension of the benefits through to August 26, see here.
Information on support for income and disability assistance can be found here.
British Columbia's April 16, 2020, news release informing how the province is supporting people on income assistance can be found here.

For the August 17, 2020 news release on the extension of Crisis Supplement cheques, see here.

Support for Family Caregivers

DESCRIPTION

As part of B.C.'s emergency COVID-19 response plan, the Province is doubling this year's funding for Family Caregivers of British Columbia to $1 million, helping support both caregivers and seniors.

Family Caregivers of B.C. is a not-for-profit organization that supports people who are caring for elderly loved ones, family or friends. With a network of local agencies throughout B.C., Family Caregivers will increase the capacity of its helpline and offer a number of virtual connections that can bring family caregivers together.

LINKS

For more information, see the April 26, 2020, news release.

Supports for People Living in Major Encampments

DESCRIPTION

The Province is working with the cities of Vancouver and Victoria to transition people living in encampments in Oppenheimer Park, Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety in the overlapping COVID-19 and overdose crises.

LINKS

See the April 25, 2020, news release here.

Funding to Improve Rural Internet Connectivity

DESCRIPTION

To help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, targeted funding will give people in rural, remote and Indigenous communities in British Columbia access to faster internet services at a time when they need them most.

The $50-million Connecting British Columbia program now includes a funding stream to help internet service providers with immediate network equipment upgrades to rapidly improve capacity and internet speeds in underserved communities throughout the province.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

See here for the application for Connecting British Columbia COVID-19 response funding.

LINKS

See here for the April 24, 2020, news release.

See here for the Connecting British Columbia Program.

See here for Phase 3 Connecting British Columbia funding application information.

See here for Connectivity in British Columbia.

Food Bank Funding

DESCRIPTION

$3-million emergency grant to Food Banks British Columbia to support immediate needs to buy and distribute food, pay employees and cover essential costs.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

People who rely on food banks.

LINKS

Find a local food bank here.

Self-Isolation Spaces

DESCRIPTION

Nearly 2,000 spaces have been secured at sites throughout B.C.'s health regions to help people self-isolate.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

People experiencing homelessness, people without safe spaces to self-isolate and youth.

LINKS

For more details about self-isolation spaces see here.

Vulnerable and People Experiencing Homelessness

DESCRIPTION

Smartphones to Connect the Vulnerable and People Experiencing Homelessness
Through the Homelessness Community Action Grant program and a partnership with 7-Eleven, the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) has been able to secure 3,500 smartphones to be distributed by community organizations who provide services and support for vulnerable people.

The smartphones can connect to Wi-Fi and include a pre-loaded $10 7-Eleven data card, so people have instant access to internet.

Supportive Homes in New Westminster

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing will provide over 40 new supportive homes in New Westminster for women experiencing homelessness in the community. The Elizabeth Fry Society is overseeing the day-to-day management of the building and will provide residents with support services.

Treatment and Recovery Beds Expansion Grants
In July 2020, the BC government announced $13.5 million to add an estimated 50 to 70 new publicly funded treatment and recovery beds. These grants will help address gaps in the system and improve mental health and addictions services.
Applications will be accepted from August 27 to October 7, 2020 and decisions will be made in the fall.

Supportive Homes in Victoria

The Province, through BC Housing, has purchased property in Victoria to build up to 50 new permanent homes with around-the-clock supports for people experiencing homelessness. BC Housing plans to have a proposal in place in early 2021.

LINKS

For the May 12, 2020, news release, see here.
To find out more about Homelessness Community Action Grants, see here .
For more information about the Downtown East Side Response, see here.

For more information about New Westminster housing, see here.

Safe Spaces for People Leaving Violence

DESCRIPTION

In addition to more than 100 transition houses and safe homes that the Province funds on an ongoing basis, nearly 300 additional spaces in communities throughout B.C. have been secured for people leaving violent or unstable situations.

If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, there is immediate crisis support for victims of family or sexual violence available through VictimLink BC's 24/7 telephone service in multiple languages at 1-800-563-0808 or by email: VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.

VictimLink BC also provides information to safe spaces available for those leaving violence as well as and referral services for all victims of crime.

In addition, B.C. is in the process of changing the tenancy law in order to provide greater protection to renters who are experiencing violence inside or outside of their home by allowing them to end their tenancy early.

ACCESS & ELIGIBILITY

Women and children experiencing violence.

LINKS

For more details on transition houses and safe homes see here.

Summer Reading Club

DESCRIPTION

The B.C. government announced an investment of $65,000 to the public libraries' British Columbia Summer Reading Club so that it may be offered virtually to young readers and their families.

LINKS

The June 15, 2020, news release on B.C.'s Summer Reading Club can be found here.

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Projects

DESCRIPTION

BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, announced funding for 11 projects to help British Columbia communities save energy and reduce pollution. These projects will create jobs, strengthen local economies, promote sustainable development and address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LINKS

For more information about the projects, see here.

ECONOMIC SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES/CHILD CARE

Ministry of Children & Family Development Response to COVID-19

DESCRIPTION

Temporary emergency funding is available for child care centres and families.

The temporary emergency funding program for licensed child care centres is being extended until August 31, 2020.

BC is also investing in projects to make more licensed child care spaces as parents start going back to work.

LINKS

The June 25, 2020, announcement that BC is providing more licenses can be found here for urrey, Coquitlam; Salmon Arm; Vancouver; Nanaimo; Maple Ridge; and Merritt. As

The government announcement of the extension of the emergency funding can be found here.

BC Ministry of Children & Family Development Response to COVID-19, updated on March 30, 2020, information can be found here.

Temporary Emergency Funding for Child Care Providers

DESCRIPTION

Child care providers that stay open will:

  • Receive enhanced funding to keep operations going. These centres are eligible to receive seven times their average monthly funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 75% of a group facility's average monthly operating expenses;
  • Continue to receive Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative (CCFRI) payments; and
  • Continue to receive Early Childhood Educator (ECE) wage enhancements for their staff.

Child Care providers that close will:

  • Be eligible to receive two times their average monthly government funding; and
  • This is expected to cover approximately 20% of an average group facility's monthly operating expenses.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Licensed group child care providers and smaller home-based child care providers are eligible for temporary emergency funding to keep operations going or maintain their business while closed.

LINKS

Information on BC's Child Care Response to COVID-19 for Providers can be found here.

Information on CCFRI payments can be found here.

Information on the Early Childhood Educator Wage Enhancement can be found here.

Support for Essential Workers who Need Child Care

DESCRIPTION

Parents who work in essential services can apply for Temporary Emergency Child Care in order to request a space in child care centres for their children.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

To apply with the Provincial Form: Temporary Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers

To apply with the City of Vancouver only form: Temporary Emergency Child Care for Essential Workers (for ages 0-12)

Spaces will be prioritized for children whose parents work in public health and health services, social services, law enforcement, first response and emergency response sectors. Additional spaces will then be given to families working in other crucial roles, defined as essential service workers.

LINKS

Information on BC's Child Care Response to COVID-19 for Parents can be found here.

The List of COVID-19 Essential Services can be found here.

Extended Supports for Youth in Care and in the AYA Program

DESCRIPTION

On March 30, 2020, the Minister of Children and Family Development announced Youth and young adults from care will continue receiving the same level of service during the pandemic, even if they were set to age out.

The measures are supported out of the BC government's $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan.

On June 22, 2020, BC announced it is extending the interim measures in a new round of funding, through to August 31, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Youth currently living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives through the Extended Family program will be able to stay where they are. Social workers are modifying agreements to allow youth and caregivers to extend their current living arrangements once a youth reaches 19 years old.

Young adults between the ages of 19 and 27 years who are enrolled in the Agreements with Young Adults (AYA) program will continue to receive financial support despite school closures and other training program interruptions caused by the pandemic. These young adults may also be eligible to receive an extension of AYA support beyond the current maximum of 48 months.

LINKS

March 30, 2020 BC Children and Family Development new release can be found here.

March 30, 2020 Youth & Young Adults - MCFD Response to COVID-19 release can be found here.

British Columbia's release on Support for Youth in Care, updated April 16, 2020, can be found here.

Keeping Kids Learning During In-Class Suspensions

DESCRIPTION

While teachers and schools have primary responsibility for continuous learning, the government has launched Keep Learning BC, where families can find ideas for everyday educational activities, annotated links to free learning resources, as well as tips on how to support kids' well-being while they are at home.

LINKS

Access to Keep Leaning BC can be found here.

Support for Families with Children and Special Needs

DESCRIPTION

Eligible B.C. families with children with special needs can access the Emergency Relief Support Fund, which provides $225 per month for the next three months (April to August 31, 2020). The emergency funding will support 50% more of the eligible families that are currently awaiting services. This includes:

  • Families with children in care on a special needs agreement or a voluntary care agreement will not have to make monthly maintenance payments for the duration of the pandemic period.
  • Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development programs will be able to extend extra staffing during school hours to help with the reduced availability of school-based services.
  • Eligibility and access to At Home Program medical benefits will be relaxed, and any families receiving benefits will continue to do so without the need for a reassessment during the pandemic period.
  • Parameters on services purchased with Autism Funding will be expanded, allowing families to use up to 35% of funding to purchase equipment and items that assist in home learning and virtual instructional approaches.

Families may direct their child's Autism Funding to access family counselling and therapy services with a qualified provider.

On June 22, 2020, BC announced it is extending the interim measures in a new round of funding, through to August 31, 2020.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Priority will be given to those families who had previously been prioritized for various support services that have not yet been put in place, as well as those families who are currently receiving support but are experiencing additional vulnerabilities as a result of COVID-19.

This is a short-term relief fund that is offered to families who require extra support during the period of April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020.

Families who have already been deemed eligible to receive CYSN Family Support Services can call their CYSN Worker who will support prioritized families to access the emergency relief funding.

LINKS

The June 22, 2020, news release on BC extending the interim measures can be found here.

British Columbia's release on Children & Youth with Special Needs – MCFD Response to COVID-19, last updated April 14, 2020, can be found here.

Family Caregivers of BC

DESCRIPTION

Funding for Family Caregivers of B.C. is doubled to $1 million to support people who are caring for elderly loved ones, family or friends.

Increased support includes:

  • Toll-free support line hours
  • Virtual connections to bring caregivers together
  • Emotional supports
Health care navigation

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Caregivers are eligible.

LINKS

Access Family Caregivers of B.C. services here.

Phase 2 - Students Have the Option to Return to School

DESCRIPTION

Parents will have the choice of bringing their children back to class on a part-time basis this school year as part of BC's Restart Plan, with the goal of returning to full-time classes in September 2020, provided it is safe to do so.

ACCESS AND ELIGIBILITY

Caregivers are eligible.

LINKS

For more information on health and safety standards for K-12 schools, plus accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions in multiple languages, see here.

PROVIDING RELIEF FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

Authorizing Local Governments to Borrow Interest-Free

DESCRIPTION

The British Columbia government has authorized local governments to borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries.

LINKS

See information on British Columbia providing relief for local governments, updated April 16, 2020, here.

Delaying Provincial School Tax Remittances

DESCRIPTION

Delaying provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year. This will provide significant relief to local governments facing cash flow issues.

LINKS

See information on British Columbia providing relief for local governments, updated April 16, 2020, here.


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