Minister of Finance Carole James speaks to the media joined by Premier John Horgan as they talk about the next steps of the COVID-19 action plan recently put in place by the provincial government during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, March 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

$1,000 payment for COVID-19 affected workers won’t come till May: B.C. finance ministry

Payment will go to those who qualify for EI or other COVID-19 related unemployment help

The $1,000 payment for workers affected by COVID-19 won’t come til early May, the B.C. finance ministry confirmed Tuesday.

The money, announced by Finance Minister Carole James Monday, is meant to be a “tax-free emergency payment” for workers struggling to make ends meet as layoffs and shutdowns continue due to the novel coronavirus. The virus has infected at least 472 people in B.C. and killed 13, health officials said Monday morning.

A finance ministry spokesperson said those who get EI, the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or the Emergency Support Benefit – both unveiled by Ottawa last week – will qualify to get the $1,000 payment.

“The $1,000 is not income-tested, so that, in fact, will go to middle-income earners,” James said in a brief debate on the $5 billion pandemic aid package she tabled in the B.C. legislature March 23. “People who are on employment insurance — who are accessing employment insurance, so who have lost their work — will have the ability to access that $1,000 as well. That’s part of the program.”

People who qualify for the money include workers who are sick, quarantined or have been laid off due to COVID-19, parents with sick family members, children or kids who must stay home because schools and daycares are closed, and who are self-employed and losing work or closing up shop due to the virus.

The finance ministry said an online application process is being worked on and information will be “coming soon,” but did not specify when.

The $1,000 is part of a $5 billion economic plan laid out by the B.C. government Monday, of which $2.8 billion will go to people, and $2.2 billion will go to small businesses.

Premier John Horgan said there was help for renters in the $5 billion plan, but the details of that won’t be rolled out till Wednesday.

READ MORE: A student loan freeze, $1,000 payments: Here’s what B.C.’s COVID-19 plan has for you

READ MORE: B.C. moves to prevent people being fired due to COVID-19 consequences

READ MORE: B.C. announces $5 billion financial relief for COVID-19 pandemic

READ MORE: B.C. legislature meets briefly with minimum MLAs to deal with COVID-19

READ MORE: More ‘stringent measures’ will come if Canadians ignore COVID-19 guidelines, Trudeau says


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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