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

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read