Province receives over 16,000 applications for Emergency Benefit for Workers in 1st hour | CBC News

B.C. is now accepting applications for its Emergency Benefit for Workers, which provides a one-time, tax free payment of $1,000 to those whose work has been affected by COVID-19.

Minister of Finance Carole James announced the opening Friday morning in Victoria.

“For people who’ve been let go of their jobs or trying to get by on reduced hours, we know the pandemic has been weighing heavy on you and your families,” said James.

“This will provide significant help for people whose jobs and incomes have been impacted by COVID-19.”

She says B.C. received more than 16,000 applications in the first hour after opening online.

The benefit was announced March 23 as part of the province’s $5-billion economic action plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the benefit isn’t universally available. 

“It’s at least tens of thousands — probably hundreds of thousand who aren’t getting it who could potentially use it,” said Rob Gillezeau, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Victoria.

Students and people who are on disability or income assistance aren’t eligible, he pointed out. Nor are those who were unemployed before the COVID-19 crisis began.

“The group I’m most worried about, low income seniors, they are not really getting any targeted benefit from anyone,” Gillezeau said.

He applauded the province for rolling out the benefit quickly, but said if the crisis drags on, he hopes B.C. will consider providing more assistance to those who have fallen through the cracks.

How to apply

The province says the easiest way to apply is through its online portal. To be eligible, applicants must:

  • have been a resident of B.C. on March 15, 2020;

  • meet the eligibility requirements for the CERB;

  • have been approved for the CERB;

  • be at least 15 years old on the date of application’

  • have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return;

  • not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

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