National NewsNews $5-Billion Action Plan to Support B.C Residents and Businesses SHARE ON: Jensen Shields, staff March 24, 2020 The British Columbia Legislature in Victoria. (Supplied by B.C. Government) The B.C Government announced a $5-billion Action Plan that increases the amount British Columbians are already getting through tax credits, while also giving additional relief to businesses. “The COVID-19 pandemic challenges our health, our economy and our way of life. People and businesses urgently need support,” said Premier John Horgan. “Our action plan focuses on services to protect people’s health and safety, gives immediate relief to people and businesses, and plans for B.C.’s economic recovery over the long term.” $1.1 billion will go toward British Columbians impacted by COVID-19. The new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a $1,000 tax-free payment for those who have federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit, or federal Emergency Support Benefit. “Workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent,” are other eligible applicants, according to the provincial government. “The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to B.C. residents, in addition to their federal income supports.” In addition, the Climate Action Tax Credit is getting an increase to be paid out in tandem with the federal (GST/HST) credit. Though the next payment is April 3rd, the boosted amount of up to $218 (increased from $43.50) won’t be delivered until July 3rd. Housing and shelter supports, income and disability assistance programs and crucial health services are getting a $1.7-billion support package from the Province as well. Meanwhile, non-profits, service delivery agencies and child care providers will continue to receive funding even if their operations are suspended. Businesses are also getting a helping hand in the sum of $2.2 billion. “Effective immediately, businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until September 30th,” announced the Office of the Premier. “Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax.” Deadlines for paying the provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax on short-term accommodation, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax have been extended to September 30th. The scheduled April 1st increase to the provincial carbon tax and the implementation of PST on sweetened carbonated drinks have also been delayed. The Province also created a $1.5-billion dollar long term recovery plan for sectors, including hospitality and tourism, who may be hit hard from COVID-19 social distancing protocols. For more details on aid packages, follow this link to the Government of B.C’s website.