B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)

Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

With Ottawa gearing up for more pandemic-driven spending and B.C. about to distribute a second round of payments to households with income up to $175,000, soaring debt at all levels of government has business people concerned.

“We’re going to indenture generations here if we’re not careful,” said Greg D’Avignon, CEO of the Business Council of B.C.

BCBC released an Ipsos Public Affairs survey this week showing 79 per cent of respondents concerned that B.C. Premier John Horgan’s campaign promises are going to lead to higher taxes and debt.

Speaking after his first post-election cabinet meeting Dec. 2, Horgan defended his key election promise to send out $1,000 to households and $500 to individuals. The B.C. legislature is being called into a brief session next week to authorize the additional borrowing, with the current-year deficit already near $13 billion and next year’s budget still to come.

“It’s prudent to do it because it’s putting dollars into people’s pockets so they can continue to get through the most challenging time British Columbians have ever known,” Horgan said. “This is going to be means tested, it’s going to be low-income families and individuals who will get access to resources that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

The “means test” was partially revealed in the NDP campaign platform, after Horgan added the payments to counter a B.C. Liberal promise to suspend sales tax next year. The one-time direct payment goes to families with annual income under $125,000, “with a sliding scale up to $175,000.” For single individuals, the “sliding scale” reduces $500 payments from $62,000 to $87,000 income.

Legislation to be tabled next week will show the actual reductions for higher income earners, and whether any test of lost income is to be used.

RELATED: Federal COVID-19 payments swell bank accounts: CIBC

RELATED: Horgan launches platform with $1,000 COVID payments

RELATED: Another $1 billion borrowed for municipalities, transit

D’Avignon notes that B.C. residents have already collected $9 billion in Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) payments, the second highest of any province. Federal spending has been highest among developed countries, pushing average income up 11 per cent even as the economy contracted.

Meanwhile, B.C.’s economic growth before the pandemic was driven almost entirely by energy projects.

“If not for LNG Canada, Site C, Trans Mountain pipeline and some office towers in Vancouver and Victoria, we would have been essentially flat,” he said.

Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s new minister of jobs and economic recovery, pointed to latest Statistics Canada labour force survey as a sign that B.C. is coming out of the COVID-19 recession.

“Since the pandemic’s most severe impact on the economy in April, B.C. has had substantial job growth for seven consecutive months, bringing our total employment to 98.5 per cent of pre-pandemic levels,” Kahlon said Friday. “This is the highest job recovery rate of any of Canada’s four largest provinces.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC politicsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

That’s Houston physician Dr. Stefanie Steel receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 19, 2021 from RN nurse manager Cindy Cockle. (Northern Health photo)
First Houston vaccinations take place

Long term care residents, health care workers on list

This BC Hydro map shows some of the power outages across Northern BC. Many were caused by high winds. (BC Hydro Website)
Power out across much of Northern BC

BC Hydro anticipates some may be without power overnight

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary. (Houston Today photo)
COVID-19 exposure reported at Houston Secondary School

Self-monitoring for symptoms encouraged

Silverthorne Elementary School
Students staying at home would not receive special treatment

Know that our schools are safe and clean. We are very diligent in our COVID protocols.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read