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British Columbia Economic Support

October 16, 2020

British Columbia Economic Support

11 Minute Read

Find out the latest support programs for individuals and businesses in British Columbia.

Performance Insight

Available Programs by Type

Support for Individuals

Support for Businesses

Employment Standards

Utility Relief

Tax Supports Summary (PDF)

Support for Individuals

  • A new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be paid to BC residents, in addition to their federal income supports. (March 23)
  • ICBC is extending deferrals to up to 90 days. People dealing with job loss, illness or loss of wages due to COVID-19 may also qualify for BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund grant program for up to $600. (March 23)
  • For people in BC currently receiving income assistance or disability assistance, the province will temporarily exempt federal employment insurance benefits, including the new $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). These payments will be fully exempted for the next three months so people receiving income assistance and disability assistance in BC will benefit from these new emergency federal support programs, without any reductions to their monthly assistance payments. (April 2)
  • For everyone on income assistance or disability assistance who is not eligible for the emergency federal support programs, including the CERB, the Province will provide an automatic $300-monthly COVID-19 crisis supplement for the next three months. This supplement will also be provided to low-income seniors who receive the BC Senior's Supplement and recipients of income assistance or disability assistance who reside in special care facilities. (April 2)
  • With the current provincewide suspension of BC Transit and Translink bus fares, the Province will also provide all BC Bus Pass Program users receiving income assistance and disability assistance with the $52 Transportation Supplement for the duration of the fare suspension. (April 2)
  • The BC government is providing a new Emergency Relief Support Fund and added service flexibility for parents of children with special needs to help during the COVD-19 pandemic. The fund will provide a direct payment of $225 per month to eligible families over the next three months (to June 30, 2020). (April 8)
  • Renters who are experiencing a loss of income during the COVID-19 pandemic can now apply for the Province's new temporary rental supplement. The program will provide $300 per month for eligible households with no dependents and $500 per month for eligible households with dependents. Eligible roommates will each be able to apply for the supplement. (April 9)
  • Applications for the $1,000 BC Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) opening on May 1, 2020. The BCEBW is a one-time, tax-free $1,000 payment for British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most people who are eligible for the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are also eligible for the BCEBW, including those who have run out of employment insurance (EI) benefits and subsequently qualify for the CERB. (April 23)
  • British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected because of the COVID-19 pandemic and are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can now apply for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEBW) online. (May 1)
  • As part of a cost-shared program with the federal government, temporary pandemic pay will support people working on the front lines in BC's health-care system, social services and corrections. This includes workers delivering a range of health and social services to people most vulnerable to COVID-19. 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. (May 19)
  • A final round of the short-term Emergency Relief Support fund for children and youth with special needs and their families will provide a direct payment of $225 per month for up to three months to assist eligible families. This will be available from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2020 and will reach twice as many families as the first round of funding, helping them to access critical supports. (June 22)
  • Starting this week, more than 80 percent of families and individuals in British Columbia will automatically receive an enhanced climate action tax credit. Eligible individuals will receive up to $218, children will receive up to $64 in a one-time increase and a family of four will receive up to $564. (July 2)
  • The Province is extending federal employment insurance exemptions and the provincial temporary crisis supplement. This exemption, which now includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (effective May 1, 2020), has been extended for the duration of these federal emergency support programs so that eligible people will continue to fully benefit without any reductions to their monthly income or disability assistance payments. (July 7)
  • The Province is extending the provincial temporary crisis supplement for people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who are not receiving federal benefits like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Province's temporary COVID-19 Crisis Supplement that has been provided since April will be extended for an additional four months. The temporary $300 crisis supplement will continue to be automatically applied to cheques distributed Sept. 23, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 16. (August 17)
  • The Government of B.C. is dedicating $44.1 million to launch the Health Career Access Program and recruit an estimated 7,000 health-care workers in long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities throughout the province. The program will provide a path for approximately 3,000 applicants who may not previously have had health-care experience to receive on-the-job training. (Sept 9)
  • A ban on evictions for non-payment of rent in BC Housing-funded buildings, as well as allowances for rent adjustments. (March 20)
  • Province is introducing a new temporary rental supplement, halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions. The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords. (March 25)
  • To support British Columbians who need a place to self-isolate and to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Province is partnering with local governments, non-profits and the hotel industry to provide 900 spaces. In addition, some hotels are reserved specifically for people who have COVID-19 and need a place to self- isolate while they recover. Other spaces are for patients being discharged from hospitals who do not have COVID-19 and who do not need emergency care, but still require ongoing health care. (April 7)
  • The Government of British Columbia is extending the temporary rental supplement (TRS) until the end of August 2020 to continue to support renters and landlords. It will also maintain the moratorium on rent increases and evictions for non-payment of rent, while enabling other notices to end tenancy to resume. (June 19)
  • As announced on July 16, renters will be expected to pay rent in full on Sept. 1, 2020, as the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent will end on Aug. 18. Renters in arrears from rent due during the specified period of March 18 to Aug. 17 will have until at least July 2021 to pay back any rent they owe, with the first repayments not starting until October at the earliest. (August 14)
Health Care
  • The BC government is waiving the Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage wait period for people moving back to BC from COVID-19 impacted areas. In addition, the BC government is planning to provide health coverage to British Columbians who are out of province and unable to return. (March 20)
  • In addition to providing immediate Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage to those moving back to BC, MSP coverage will also be expanded to temporary foreign workers until July 31, 2020. (March 27)
  • The province is launching a new process to match parents, who are working on the front lines of BC's COVID-19 response and have children up to five years of age, with childcare in their communities. (March 31)
Support for Students
  • Students attending British Columbia's 25 public post-secondary institutions, who are experiencing emergency financial pressures, will benefit from a one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance. (April 2)
  • The Province is freezing BC student loan payments for six months, starting March 30, 2020. Federal student loan payments are being frozen as well. (March 23)

Support for Businesses

  • Effective immediately, businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax. (March 23)
  • Further reducing the school property tax rate for commercial properties to achieve an average 25 percent reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses, providing up to $700 million in relief. This enhances the 50 percent reduction to the provincial school property tax rate that was originally announced for classes 4, 5, and 6 as part of BC's COVID-19 Action Plan. (April 16)
  • Postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 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. (April 16)
  • A new BC Business COVID-19 Support Service will serve as a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be operated by Small Business BC (SBBC), a non-profit organization that is well known and respected by the business community. (April 16)
  • The scheduled April 1 increase to the provincial carbon tax, as well as the new PST registration requirements on e-commerce and the implementation of PST on sweetened carbonated drinks, will be delayed and their timing will be reviewed by Sept. 30, 2020. (March 23)
  • Thousands of small businesses in British Columbia will see their monthly rent reduced by at least 75 percent with the new federal-provincial Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA). (April 24)
  • Government has temporarily deferred renewal fees for those liquor licensees experiencing financial hardship due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For liquor licences expiring between March 31 and June 30, 2020, renewal fees will be deferred until Sept. 30, 2020. (May 1)
  • BC businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government will be protected from evictions as the B.C. government issues a new order under the Emergency Program Act (EPA). 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. (June 1)
  • The Province of British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (June 25)
  • Legislation was introduced to authorize filing and payment deferrals for employer health tax, provincial sales tax, hotel tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax and tobacco tax to Sept. 30, 2020;
  • Legislation was introduced to postpone the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 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; (June 24)
  • As announced June 19, 2020, the Province is maintaining the moratorium on rent increases and evictions for non-payment of rent. However, other notices to end tenancy may resume effectively immediately. As the Province moves forward with BC's Restart Plan, the ban on evictions for reasons other than late payment or non-payment of rent has now been lifted. (June 24)
  • The Province is delaying implementation dates to April 2021 for changes to provincial sales tax (PST) and B.C.'s carbon tax, to help businesses and families through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery. (September 2)
Art and Culture
  • To help BC musicians take part in Showcase BC, Creative BC has also opened a new Showcase BC music funding stream. This new program will provide one-time micro-grants of $500 to emerging artists and $2,000 to established artists for livestreaming, songwriting and professional development. (April 11)
Agriculture and Agribusiness
  • The BC government is providing $300,000 to support industry-led Buy BC e-commerce activities. The program provides financial support to access and develop websites that accommodate online sales and helps cover the costs of marketing and shipping products to consumers throughout 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. (May 12)
  • The latest intake of the BC Agri-Business Planning Program is open to applications and has been expanded to include aquaculture and seafood companies in developing COVID-19 business recovery plans. BC agriculture, seafood and food processing business owners are encouraged to apply if their revenues have decreased by at least 30 percent as a result of COVID-19. The funding available includes 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. Eligible applicants may also apply to the specialized business planning stream of the program to further strengthen their business. (May 15)
  • The new BC Farm, Fish and Food Job Connector will showcase current job vacancies throughout the province, including those for crop and seafood harvesters, food processing and farm workers, agrologists, large machinery operators and marketing specialists. The site also has sector-specific information and guidance to support businesses as they adapt their recruitment and human resource management in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (May 28)
  • The BC government is deferring one of the fees it charges to help people, communities and forest companies navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. Stumpage, the fee operators pay the province to harvest, buy or sell trees from Crown land, is being deferred for three months. (April 30)
  • Changes to the Manufactured Forest Products Regulation (MFPR) 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. (June 11)
Oil and Gas
  • On April 17, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $120 million in funding for BC to support the clean up of oil and gas sites. The Province rolled out three new programs on May 19, 2020, to bring this funding to B.C. industry. On the first day applications were open, on May 25th, the first funding allocation was nearly fully subscribed. The program is split into two phases of $50 million each. Applications for the second half will open on November 1, 2020. (May 26)
Support for Local Governments
  • Authorizing local governments to borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries. (April 16)
  • Delaying provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year. This will provide significant relief to local governments facing cash flow issues. (April 16)
  • Providing local governments greater flexibility to carry debt for an additional year. (April 16)
  • The Province has approved a temporary wholesale pricing model that will allow liquor licensees to purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost. This measure will provide much-needed financial support for businesses like restaurants, bars and tourism operators with liquor licences. It will be in place from the end of July 2020 until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed. (June 16)
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Province is temporarily authorizing liquor manufacturers to deliver products directly to individual consumers from their registered off-site storage facilities, in addition to their on-site stores. This temporary measure will expire on Oct. 31, 2020, and no extension will be considered. (July 31)
  • On June 22, 2020, the annual licence renewal fee was reduced for commercial operators who hold a Passenger Directed Vehicle Authorization, which includes taxi and limousine operators. In the past, these licensees paid an annual fee of $100 per vehicle with no overall fee cap. It has been reduced to $50 per vehicle with a licence fee cap of $5,000. (June 29)
  • Additional temporary measures to support the passenger transportation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic have also been introduced, including waiving plate fees for all operators during COVID-19, allowing eligible licensees to defer their passenger transportation renewal fee for up to six months, and allowing insurance payments to be temporarily suspended for fleet and non-fleet customers (June 29)

Employment Standards

  • British Columbia is making changes to the Employment Standards Act that will allow workers to immediately take unpaid, job-protected leave if they are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19. The leave will be retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in BC. During this public health emergency, people can take this job-protected leave for as long as the circumstance that requires them to be away from work applies. (March 23)
  • The Employment Standards Act changes also provide up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. This is a permanent change to the act that brings BC in line with all other provinces in Canada. (March 23)
  • The BC government has extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks, from 13 weeks, for COVID-19 related reasons. (May 4)
  • Employers and workers who need to extend temporary layoffs due to COVID-19 can more easily apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch's new online application. An application deadline of Aug. 25, 2020, has been set to ensure that all applications will be processed by the Aug. 30 expiry date. (July 20)

Utility Relief

  • Residential customers who have lost their jobs or are unable to work as a result of COVID-19 will receive a credit to help cover the cost of their electricity bills. The credit will be three times their average monthly bill over the past year at their home and does not have to be repaid. (April 1)
  • 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. (April 1)
  • Major industries, like pulp and paper mills and mines, will have the opportunity to defer 50 percent of their bill payments for three months. (April 1)


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