COVID-19 supports have been confirmed for people and businesses, while the B.C. government responds to the fiscal impacts of the pandemic by allowing it to run deficit budgets.
“We are making sure people and businesses have the support they need, while we work together to restart and rebuild an economy that works for everyone,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance. “Much has changed since we released Budget 2020, and deficits will occur as a result of lower government revenues and our plan to invest in people and support our province’s recovery.”
The Province said that legislation will allow the deficit budgets for the next three years, while it uses funds to support COVID-19 recovery. As well, it will be able to table supplementary estimates before the legislative assembly. Further amendments will clarify existing limits and uses of special warrants to maintain essential services and respond to an emergency or disaster.
Despite deficit budgets being permitted, there will not be any changes to salary holdback requirements for executive council for years where deficits occur.
“The Economic Stabilization Act brings the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers into law and updates the eligibility date to March 1, 2020. The change will allow people whose income is affected by COVID-19 and who filed federal employment insurance claims between March 1 and March 15 to benefit from the support. The application for these individuals will be available as of June 26, 2020. Almost 600,000 people have been approved to receive the benefit to date,” said the B.C. Government.
The legislation will also confirm many of the previously announced supports for people and business from the Provincial Government’s COVID-19 Action Plan, including:
- Authorizing filing and payment deferrals for employer health tax, provincial sales tax, hotel tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax and tobacco tax to Sept. 30, 2020.
- Postponing the date that late payment penalties apply for commercial properties in classes 4,5,6,7 and 8 to Oct. 1, 2020, to give businesses and landlords more time to pay their reduced property tax, without penalty.
- Allowing municipalities to keep school taxes and the police tax collected for the Province until January 2021.
- Requiring municipalities to remit taxes they collect for TransLink in July 2020 so it can continue operating, as well as allowing other municipalities to continue to make their service payments to BC Transit.