Aid for citizens of BC—and big fines for rulebreakers
By Jessica Berget, Editor-in-Chief
On March 17, the province of BC declared a state of emergency due to the COVID epidemic. We’ve all heard about the various methods of how to stop the spread of this virus—washing our hands, staying inside, avoiding social interactions, etc. We are responsible for our own health and safety, but what is the BC government doing to ensure that the general population is safe and supported during this pandemic?
To help stop the spread of the virus and possibly many more deaths, the BC government has issued health regulations for everyone to follow and bylaw officers have been recruited to help enforce these new regulations. The Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, and other businesses as well as any gathering with 50 or more people. People caught breaking these provisions can be fined up to $25,000 and suffer a six-month jail term under the BC Public Health Act. According to Global News, the Vancouver city council has already approved fines up to $50,000 for people caught breaking these rules.
Besides ensuring social distancing rules are taken seriously, the BC government has also provided some aid for housing, transportation, financials, and employment for its citizens and businesses.
In terms of rent, the BC government offers assistance to those who have lost income or struggle with their bills because of being laid off. According to the BC government website, The Residential Tenancy Act is made to support renters and landlords who have been affected by COVID and are in effect until the state of emergency is finished. The website iterates that tenants should still pay rent on time and in full wherever possible, but with some exceptions. “The state of emergency temporarily suspends a landlord’s ability to end a tenancy if a tenant does not pay the rent in full and on time. A tenant who has not paid rent could face eviction once the state of emergency is over,” reads the BC government website.
However, there are still support for people who are still struggling. Temporary Rent Supplement will provide $500 per month available to low to moderate income renters who face financial struggles in the face of COVID. The supplement will be paid directly to landlords. Applications are now open on the BC housing website. The BC emergency benefit for workers supplies workers a one-time $1000 tax free payment for people whose ability to work has been affected by COVID. Information about this benefit has yet to be updated. The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), who provides $500 a week to people affected by the virus, has also been supplied to those who fall under the requirements.
aid is not the only thing BC is doing to help the population. ICBC and BC Hydro
customers can defer their payments with no penalty. The BC government froze
student loan payments until the end of September with no accrued interest. BC transit fares and passes are also no
longer required at this time.
April 13, there have been 69 coronavirus related deaths in the province, making
the total cases in the province nearly 1500. More than half of the deaths have
been sourced from senior care facilities.