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

West Shore RCMP is seeking information about a collision involving a car and a bicycle on Six Mile Road, near the Island Highway, at 11:30 a.m. on April 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP seeks information about collision between bike, car

Collision occured on Six Mile Road on April 7 and a bystander got the blue car’s plate number

West Shore RCMP arrested a 42-year-old man April 11 following numerous reports of someone firing a rifle in a Malahat campground. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
West Shore RCMP arrest man after shots fired at Malahat campground

Police received numerous reports of a man firing a rifle outside his camper trailer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Driver who crashed into Uptown Walmart likely suffering mental health crisis, police say

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

A portion of West Coast Road in Sooke is closed as emergency services are currently responding to a “serious incident.” Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
West Coast Road is closed between Grant Road West and Otter Point Road

A portion of West Coast Road in Sooke is closed as emergency services are currently on scene

Oak Bay Police. (Black Press File Photo)
Driver caught accelerating to twice the speed limit through Oak Bay school zone

Officers also responded to impaired drivers and multiple thefts last week

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

Most Read