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

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

The most recent information from the BCCDC shows four more cases of COVID-19 in the North Thompson local health area, which stretches from just north of Little Fort to south of Valemount. The map is updated every Wednesday with the previous week's numbers. (BCCDC)
Four more cases in North Thompson health area

The North Thompson local health area stretches from just south of Blackpool to south of Valemount.

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read