COVID-19 – B.C. Provincial Government Support Programs

Summary of Provincial Benefits and Video Interview: Rob Stevens, Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Policy at AME interviewed Preston Parsons, Lawyer at Overholt Law on the COVID-19 Provincial Legislative changes and Occupational Health and Safety. The interview took place on April 3 and there have been updates since then, see below.

They discussed changes to the BC Employment Standards Act and the specific COVID-19 related leaves, the COVID-19 Action Plan including the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers and eligibility for EI.

Useful links:

NEW: COVID-19 support service for B.C. businesses is a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hours of operation are Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

COVID-19 Action Plan: B.C.’s first steps to support people, businesses

B.C.’s COVID Action Plan and other government resources and updates, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/covid19

How B.C.’s COVID-19 Action Plan helps people and businesses: http://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-takes-steps-to-support-people-businesses-during-covid-19-pandemic

Workers

Unlimited, unpaid job-protected leave for workers who are unable to work for reasons relating to COVID-19, retroactive to Jan 27, 2020. As a permanent change, workers now also have three days of unpaid, job-protected leave each year for people who cannot work due to illness or injury.

BC Emergency Benefit for workers provides a one-time additional tax-free payment of $1000 to those on EI or CERB in May. Applications open May Apply online.

Occupational Health and Safety Information and Useful links:

Staying Safe at Work: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/health-and-safety/staying-safe-at-work

What Employers should do:  https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/health-and-safety/what-employers-should-do

What Workers should do: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/about-us/covid-19-updates/health-and-safety/what-workers-should-do

Guidance to mining and smelting operations during COVID‐19: https://amebc.ca/covid_updates/guidance-to-mining-and-smelting-operations-during-covid

Handling Absences & Other Disruptions: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/handling-disruptions

Work Safe BC: Payment deadlines are postponed without penalty until June 30, except for employers that report on an annual basis (which do not need to report their 2020 payroll or pay their 2020 premiums until March 2021).

BC Hydro

BC Hydro is halting all service disconnections for non-payment of bills and reducing electricity rates by 1%.

COVID-19 Relief Fund waives electricity charges for up to three months for small businesses that needed to close due to COVID-19. Applications will be accepted between April 13 – June 30, check back when available.

COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program offers bill deferral and payment plans for customers struggling due to impacts of COVID-19. Customer Assistance: Call 1-800-BC-HYDRO

Taxes

BC business tax payments deferred until after Sept 30: Employer health tax (EHT), provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax, and carbon tax. Scheduled April 1 increases to provincial carbon tax and PST are deferred.