16,389 people signed up for the B.C. workers’ benefit in the first 45 minutes. Here’s how you can apply.

Applications for B.C.’s emergency benefit during the novel coronavirus pandemic are now open.

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers is a one-time $1,000 payment available to residents whose work has been impacted during the COVID-19 crisis. 

At about 8:30 a.m., the online applications opened to the public. During a live briefing Friday morning, Finance Minister Carole James said 16,389 people had applied for the benefit in the first 45 minutes the application was open, which is about 364 per minute on average.

“For people who have been let go of their jobs or who are trying to get by working on reduced hours, we know the pandemic is weighing heavily on you and your family,” she said.

“We all know that many British Columbians have lost their jobs or had their ability to work severely affected by COVID-19. It’s made it harder and harder for people to make ends meet, to be able to pay their bills.”

Announced last month, the benefit is available to those who have also been approved for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Applicants must also be at least 15 years of age and have been a resident on March 15. They also must have filed or agree to file a 2019 B.C. income tax return. Individuals receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance aren’t eligible.

James explained the province is using CERB as a requirement to keep the application process quick and simple for applicants.

“We wanted to keep the application process as straight forward as possible,” she said. “It really was making sure we can get the money out to people as quickly as possible because we know they need it now.”

While a link was added to the province’s website on Friday, those who would rather apply over the phone can do so on Monday.  

Watch an American Sign Language translation of the news conference on the provincial government’s YouTube page.

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kendra Mangione

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