As applications for the BC Recovery Benefit, a central plank of the provincial NDP re-election campaign, opens on the 18th of December, many people who need it now will be left behind. That’s because the criteria for eligibility will be based on 2019 net income for most.
Take my case, I worked at Air Canada for 10 years and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and the borders closed. You can guess what happened to my job.
Needless to say my net income in 2019 does not reflect my current situation. I’ll still qualify, but the amount will be nowhere near what was promised on the campaign trail.
On the government website the reasoning is: “British Columbians need support now, and if the benefit relied on 2020 income tax data, payment wouldn’t be possible until approximately fall 2021.”
If British Columbians need it now, it’s probably because things went downhill in 2020, no? Even the federal Liberals of Justin Trudeau understood the urgency and were able to rapidly send money and confirm eligibility later. Sure it wasn’t perfect, but it was impressive.
What the NDP government is not saying, is that they made a choice to do it this way even though there were other options. Eligibility could have been confirmed later. Perhaps proof of CRB/EI claims could have been enough under the circumstances. It was that way in the spring for other programs after all.
The benefit was a false promise for the people who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s also bad policy for a government that sees itself as progressive to knowingly leave people behind.
The NDP is quick to point out that 90 per cent of adults will receive the benefit but fails to mention how many of that 90 per cent will be receiving a $10 cheque (not a typo-$10) just so they can boast about it that way. It’s as if they thought about that part.
That’s politics, I guess.
Marc-Andre Pigeon is a Powell River resident.