British Columbia

B.C. throne speech promises financial aid for families and individuals will be approved by end of year

Effective vaccine delivery, fortifying health care and financial aid for individuals and businesses are among the priorities outlined in the throne speech from the newly elected NDP government.

Newly elected NDP government pledges to redouble efforts in fight against COVID-19

The Honourable Janet Austin, Lt.-Gov. of British Columbia, Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby pose with newly sworn in members of cabinet during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The pandemic figured prominently in B.C.'s speech from the throne with promises from the newly elected NDP government to redouble efforts to fight the virus, to effectively deliver the COVID-19 vaccine and to fortify health care by hiring more doctors and nurses.

In outlining the government's priorities, Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin also said more financial assistance is coming to individuals and businesses to help weather the pandemic.

"In short, healthy people are necessary for a healthy economic recovery," she said. 

Most B.C. households will be eligible for direct financial assistance through the B.C. Recovery Benefit, said Austin. It is expected to start rolling out by the end of the year.

The plan will see families with a combined household income of less than $125,000 per year eligible to receive $1,000.

Families earning between $125,000 and $170,000  will receive payment on a sliding scale.

Individuals earning less than $62,000 a year will be eligible for $500, with those individuals earning up to $87,000 eligible, again, on a sliding scale.

The speech included pledges to give businesses tax breaks for hiring and buying new equipment and to upskill or reskill workers for in-demand jobs in the post-COVID-19 economy.

Delivering on long-awaited affordable child-care spaces was also promised.

"In the months ahead, your government will provide millions of dollars to child-care providers to help them deliver COVID-19-safe care and millions more to school boards and health authorities for renovations to create more spaces," she said.

Austin opened her speech by noting the hardship and deaths caused by B.C.'s dual health emergencies: the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid overdose crisis. 

She also noted the efforts of front-line health-care workers, caregivers, teachers and school staff during the pandemic.

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