B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James and Premier John Horgan announce $5 billion emergency fund for COVID-19 unemployment and other relief, B.C. legislature, March 23, 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James expects to lay out the extent of the COVID-19 impact on the province’s economy this week, but how she will deploy a $1.5 billion relief fund will likely have to wait until August.

James is preparing to provide an update on the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on B.C. July 14. It will set out the progress of the province’s relief efforts for individuals and businesses, and include a range of financial forecasts about what the future holds for the B.C. economy.

But the $1.5 billion in borrowed money held in reserve for a recovery plan will not be finalized until after a six-week public consultation that runs until July 21, with analysis after that.

“Yes, we will have additional measures that will come later, after our consultation occurs,” James told reporters at the B.C. legislature July 13.

Many of the government’s measures are already in place, such as tax payment deferrals and reduced business school tax, plus the gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions on business and public activities. With the $1.5 billion recovery fund left from the $5 billion emergency appropriation voted by MLAs, the cost will be enormous.

“I’ve tabled legislation that says for the next three years we will not balance the budget. We will in fact have deficits,” James said. “But each and every year that’s going to have to be looked at. We’re going to have to see where the economic recovery is occurring. I’m afraid it’s a challenging time, and you’ll see that in some of the statistics tomorrow, when it comes to economic forecasters who have a wide range of what they anticipate could be coming, because of the uncertainty that’s there for, not British Columbia but in fact for Canada and the world.”

B.C. Liberal MLAs have called for faster action, and leader Andrew Wilkinson has sent a series of letters to Premier John Horgan with possible ways to use the relief money. Among those was declaring a sales tax holiday for struggling businesses, rather than just allowing them to defer sending in the sales tax they collect on transactions.

RELATED: B.C. legislature recalled for emergency summer session

RELATED: Online survey for B.C. pandemic fund open until July 21


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parksville city hall sign. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville city council approves 2021 workplan

Public input still sought on municipal budget and financial plan

Colin Springford expressed his thanks following a birthday truck parade that was held for him on his 75th birthday on April 10, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Longtime Nanoose Bay farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

Nicole Shaw, left, and Sekoya Dawn next to their respective works at the Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery in Qualicum Beach. The art will be on display until the end of February. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Acrylic artists display work in Qualicum Beach

Nicole Shaw and Sekoya Dawn both featured at Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Most Read