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

Rio Tinto responds to U.S. aluminum import tariffs

The tariffs were imposed by President Donald Trump Aug. 6

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Pretivm Resources reports fatality at Brucejack mine

The isolated incident occurred last Friday, and the employee passed away on Sunday in hospital

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Smoke seen over northern B.C. from wildfires in the U.S. and Siberia

Smoke was seen over Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Prince George on Friday, July 31.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

T-Rex earns big bids at B.C. dino auction

Over 500 dino-themed lots sold to buyers from across North America

Most Read