The province has announced a $5 billion dollar economic action plan for British Columbians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package includes $2.8 billion in financial relief for residents and $2.2 billion for businesses.

Of the $2.8 billion, the province is dedicating $1.1 billion to boost the income of people affected by COVID-19.

A new emergency benefit for workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak.

It will be a one-time payment for those who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

This includes workers who have been laid-off, who are sick or quarantined, parents with sick children, parents who stay at home from work while child care centres and schools are closed, and those caring for sick family members, such as an elderly parent. The workers can also be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed.

The province says the COVID-19 Action Plan takes further steps to boost income support by increasing and expanding the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit this July.

The Province is also allocating $1.7 billion for the critical services British Columbians need.

That includes investments in housing and shelter supports, income and disability assistance programs and crucial health services, such as funding for the BC Centre for Disease Control hotline, quarantine costs, lab tests and work underway at the First Nations Health Authority and the United Way’s Better at Home program for seniors.

To help people with student loans, the province is freezing student loan payments for six months, starting March 30th. Federal student loan payments are being frozen as well.

The provincial government also says British Columbians need more time to pay their bills so
ICBC is extending hydro bill referrals to up to 90 days.

People dealing with job loss, illness or loss of wages due to COVID-19 may also qualify for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund grant program for up to $600.