An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
BRITISH COLUMBIANS can apply for their thousand-dollar election bonus on Friday. That’s the one John Horgan promised us a couple of months ago as a Christmas gift, though it won’t get to anyone until after the big day.
Those who are eligible for the payment will, of course, be happy to get it and, no doubt, it will be of some help to struggling businesses as people spend it into the economy. But there are also a lot of people who won’t receive it.
According to the government, 3.7 million B.C. residents will receive what it calls the tax-free BC Recovery Benefit. I don’t know what that’s based on but I suspect it’s a bit of a guesstimate that includes a calculation of the number of people in households that will qualify.
If we accept 3.7 million as a number based on total population, it means almost 1.5 million won’t qualify. Sad fact is, many of those need the money a lot more than many who will get the thousand bucks.
That’s because eligibility is based on 2019 incomes, not on 2020. The challenge in figuring who to give the money to is obvious: until 2020 tax returns are in nobody will know how many people suffered a significant cut in income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As critics of the plan have pointed out, a taxpayer might well have made enough in 2019 to be ineligible but have lost a job or a business during this past year and could really use a thousand dollars right now.
Figuring out pandemic relief is part science and a good deal art. It’s inevitable that some people who really need it won’t get it, and others who don’t need it at all, will get it. Government can only do its best to keep things as fair as possible.
In the case of the BC Recovery Benefit, unfortunately, John Horgan’s NDP have failed on that score.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.