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British Columbia’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 26, 2020

The Provincial Government announced several initiatives to help British Columbians facing hardship due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For Businesses:

Deferred Tax Payments

Effective immediately, BC is extending filing and payment deadlines for the following taxes until September 30, 2020:

  • Employer health tax
  • Provincial sales tax (including municipal and regional district tax)
  • Carbon tax
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Tobacco tax

Reduced School Tax Rates for Businesses

School tax rates for commercial and industrial properties (Classes 4, 5 and 6) will be reduced by 50% for the 2020 tax year.

For Individuals and Families:

Enhanced BC Climate Action Tax Credit

An additional one-time payment will be made in July 2020 on top of the regular climate action tax credit amount for qualifying individuals and families. The previously scheduled credit increase effective July 2020 remains the same.

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers

The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19.

  • BC residents who receive Federal Employment Insurance, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit are eligible
  • Applications will open in April 2020
  • The one-time payment will be paid in May 2020

Climate Action Tax Credit

A one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit will be paid in July 2020 for moderate to low-income families:

  • An adult will receive up to $218.00 (increased from $174.00)
  • A child will receive $64.00 (increased from $51.00)

BC Student Loans

Starting March 30, 2020, BC student loan payments are automatically frozen for six months.

Rental Rebate, Moratorium on Evictions and Rent Freeze

The BC Government is offering a $500/month payment for the next 3 months which will be paid directly to landlords. The funds will support renters experiencing a loss of income by helping them pay their rent and will be paid directly to landlords on their behalf, to ensure landlords continue to receive rental income during the pandemic. Benefiting people with low to moderate incomes, this supplement will be available to renters who are facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but do not qualify for existing rental assistance programs.

Assistance with Monthly Bills:

BC Hydro

  • Customers can defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty through the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program
  • Customers experiencing job loss, illness or lost wages due to COVID-19 can access grants up to $600 to pay their hydro bills through the Customer Crisis Fund


  • Customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 may defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact a member of the Empire CPA team by filling out the contact form below.

Canadian and foreign tax laws are complex and have a tendency to change on a frequent basis. As such, the content published above is believed to be accurate as of the date of this post. Before implementing any tax planning, please seek professional advice from a qualified tax professional. Empire, Chartered Professional Accountants will not accept any liability for any tax ramifications that may result from acting based on the information contained above.

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