The BC government created a new benefit with the goal of providing financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The BC Recovery Benefit began on Dec 18, 2020 and will continue until June 30, 2021.
This primer was created to help you answer any questions you may receive about applying for this benefit in your libraries, especially considering people may need to access library computers and scanners to complete the process. The primer walks you through the basics of the benefit, some common questions and suggested responses, and the eligibility criteria and requirements for applying.
The information here can also be found on the BC government webpage - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit.
BC Recovery Benefit Basics
- The application period opened on Dec 18, 2020 and runs until June 30, 2021. People have to apply for the benefit; it is not dispensed automatically like some other provincial COVID relief benefits.
- Applications can be made online, over the phone and at some Service BC locations (more detail below in Submitting Applications).
- The benefit is a one-time, tax-free payment to eligible applicants, deposited directly into their bank accounts. Important to note: those that do not have a bank account at a Canadian financial institute cannot yet apply for the benefit. There should be an application coming soon that these applicants can use, although there is no date for this as of yet.
- The amount eligible applicants receive is determined based on the applicant’s 2019 income tax return.
- There are two different application types and amounts for this benefit: one for Families/Single parents and one for Individuals.
- Families/Single parents are eligible for $1,000 for those with a net income of up to $125,000. A reduced amount is available for those with a net income of up to $175,000.
- Individuals are eligible for $500 for those with a net income of up to $62,500. A reduced amount is available for those with a net income of up to $87,500.
These are some questions you may receive about the BC Recovery Benefit in your libraries.
Who can I contact to learn more about the benefit/my application?
If anyone comes in with a question about their existing application, they can find out more information by emailing BCRBPsupport@gov.bc.ca.
People with general questions about the benefit, questions about additional documents they’ve been asked to provide, or wanting help with applying for the benefit over the phone can contact the toll-free number to speak to a call-center agent: 1-833-882-0020.
General inquiries about the benefit can also be answered over email: BCRBPinfo@gov.bc.ca
Can you help me fill out this application?
If someone is looking for help filling out the application, you can refer them to the toll-free number, where a call centre agent can help them complete the application over the phone. Agents are available Mon-Fri, 7:30-5:00, excluding stat holidays.
Toll-free number: 1-833-882-0020
If your patron is looking for information about the benefit and whether they are eligible, this primer might be able to help. You can also direct them to the BC government webpage about the benefit - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit.
When receiving questions like this, feel free to consult our Legal information & Legal advice guide, which provides some guidance in navigating this murky area and establishing boundaries with patrons. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit.
I’m having trouble with the website. Can you help?
The online application should be compatible with multiple browsers. It doesn’t require downloading any documents, so the patron should be able to fill it out completely in the browser. This means that the patron will need to fill out the application all at once, as there is no option to save a copy and continue later. The patron will also need an email address to fill out the application online, as a confirmation number will need to be sent to the applicant after the application is completed. If they do not have an email address, they can apply over the phone via the toll-free number: 1-833-882-0020.
If the issue is more complex than simple troubleshooting, it may be best to refer the patron to the toll-free number for help applying, or to the emails above.
The website says I need a bank account to apply, but I don’t have one.
Right now, the benefit is limited to those with bank accounts, as it requires one for the direct deposit of the benefit amount. According to the website, a modified application is coming in early 2021, although there is no date yet for when this application will be available.
Do I need to apply online?
Applications can be completed over the phone via the toll-free number. Agents will walk through the application with the applicant and give them a Case ID after the application is completed.
Toll-free number: 1-833-882-0020
I’ve applied for the BC Recovery Benefit. Are there other COVID-19 benefits available to me?
People’s Law School provides a good summary of the various benefits that are available to people affected by COVID-19 – Coronavirus & Relief Benefits: The 5-Minute Summary https://www.peopleslawschool.ca/everyday-legal-problems/health/coronavirus/coronavirus-relief-benefits-5-minute-summary
You can also search for potential benefits using the Benefits Finder on the Canada government webpage https://benefitsfinder.services.gc.ca/hm?GoCTemplateCulture=en-CA.There is an option to select to search for benefits related to COVID-19.
Applicants must meet the following general eligibility criteria to apply for the BC Recovery Benefit:
- Applicants must be residents of BC on Dec 18, 2020. Generally, a person is a resident if they lived in the province of BC on that date.
- If a patron is unsure if they qualify as a resident, the BC government website has more information about the specifics of what it means to be a resident of BC - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit#resident
- Applicants must be at least 19 years of age on Dec 18, 2020. However, there are some exceptions to this:
- A person who is under 19 and has a spouse/common-law partner can apply for the family/single parent benefit if both are BC residents.
- A person who is under 19 and is a single parent can apply for the family/single parent benefit. This person must be the primary caregiver for the child.
- Applicants must have completed filing a 2019 Canadian personal income tax return. There are some additional considerations for this:
- If the applicant is on income or disability assistance, they can apply for the benefit through the modified application which will be available in early 2021.
- If the applicant didn’t file their tax return in 2019 or doesn’t have a bank account, they can apply through the modified application coming soon.
- If the applicant or their spouse/common-law partner became bankrupt in 2019, then the amount of the benefit is determined based on the total of their pre-and post-bankruptcy income. When applying, the applicant will enter the total of Lines 23600 from their pre-and post-bankruptcy returns.
- If the applicant was confined to prison or a similar institute for a period of 90 days or longer that includes Dec 18, 2020, they are not eligible for the BC Recovery Benefit.
- A deceased individual’s estate can apply for the individual benefit if they were alive on Dec 18, 2020.
- If the applicant was married or common law on Dec 18, 2020 and their partner has since died then they can apply for the family/single parent benefit rather than the individual benefit.
- Applicants must have a valid social insurance number, individual tax number, or temporary tax number.
Which type of the BC Recovery Benefit should I apply for?
To help clarify confusion around whether someone should apply for the family/single parent benefit or the individual benefit, the BC government provides these definitions:
- For the purposes of this benefit, a Family is defined as an individual and their spouse and/or common-law partner, unless they are separated. Both spouses/common-law partners must meet the general eligibility criteria to apply for the family/single parent benefit.
- If one person is a BC resident but the spouse/common-law partner is not, then they can apply for individual benefit.
- A Single Parent is defined as the principal caregiver to at least one child. This means the applicant has primary responsibility for the child most of the time.
- If they are not the principal caregiver to the child, they can apply for the individual benefit.
- A Child is defined as a person under the age of 19 on Dec 18, 2020 who would not be eligible for the benefit on their own.
- Separation is defined as living apart from your spouse/common law partner for a period of at least 90 days due to a breakdown in the relationship and without reconciliation. Separation begins the day the spouses/common law partners begin living apart. Generally, in the case of separation, both people can apply for the individual benefit, but not the family/single parent benefit.
- If the spouses/common law partner are separated with shared custody, each parent can apply for the individual benefit. If one spouse/partner is the principal caregiver, they can apply for the family/single parent benefit. An applicant is not considered a principal caregiver if they are a shared custody parent for the Canada Child Benefit or GST/HST credit. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/child-family-benefits/canada-child-benefit-overview/canada-child-benefit-before-you-apply.html#shared
What does someone need to apply?
- Net income from their 2019 Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.
- This is Line 23600 from their most recent 2019 Notice of Assessment.
- If they haven’t filed yet, they should file as soon as possible. The notice of assessment will be issued after the CRA finishes processing the tax return and they can then apply for the BC Recovery Benefit.
- Tax returns can be filed online, by paper or over the phone https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/income-tax/personal-income-tax/doing-your-taxes.html#h_7
- Tax returns can also be completed using tax clinics. This link can help you find one in your area - https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/free-tax-help.html
- Social insurance number, individual tax number, or temporary tax number
- Driver’s license number, if the patron has one. This is used to help identify fraudulent claims, so if the patron doesn’t have a driver’s license, they can still apply for the benefit.
- Mailing address. Part of the application requires the applicant to verify their mailing address with Canada Post.
- A Verify Address with Canada Post tool will appear within the application.
- Applicants have the option to select either Verified or As Entered when inputting their address. If the address isn’t found within the tool, they should make sure it is entered correctly and try again. If the address is still not recognized by the tool, it may be unverified by Canada Post. The applicant can still continue the application, but there could be a delay in processing the benefit.
- Direct deposit information. This benefit is only issued by direct deposit, not cheque, so the applicant must have an account with a Canadian financial institution to receive it. A modified application will be available soon for those on income or disability assistance and who don’t have a bank account.
- Direct deposit information is available on personal cheques or from an applicant’s financial institute. The BC Recovery Benefit webpage has more information about where to locate this information - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit
Submitting the application
There are a few ways to apply for this benefit:
- Online: the application is available here. https://www.etax.gov.bc.ca/btp/BCRBP/_/ This is the fastest way to apply and the one recommended by the BC government. It is estimated to take about 15 minutes. To apply online, the applicant must have an email address, as this is how the government will send a confirmation number after the application is complete.
- Phone: an applicant can contact the toll-free number and have a call-centre agent help them apply. This method may result in longer wait times as a high number of calls are anticipated. After the application is completed, applicants will be given a Case ID number. Toll-free number: 1-833-882-0020.
- Service BC: applicants can use the computer terminals available at certain Service BC locations to complete the application. You can search for the nearest Service BC location online - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/ministries/citizens-services/servicebc
Important to note: if the applicant is applying for the family/single parent benefit, they should only submit one application for themselves and their spouse/common law partner.
Some applicants may be asked to submit additional documents after submitting the application. Make sure to include the confirmation number from the initial email or the Case ID provided from the phone call application.
Applicants can submit documents online through the application portal or through the mail. Supporting documents cannot be sent via email. If your patron has questions about supporting documentation requests, they can email BCRBPsupport@gov.bc.ca or call 1-833-882-0020. Call-center agents can also help if the patron is having problems uploading documents to the website.
See the section After you apply for more information and to find the tool to upload documents - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit
After the application is approved, the benefit will generally be deposited into the provided account within 5 business days. The applicant should receive both an email and a mailed letter when the payment is processed.
If a person receives the benefit in error, they may need to repay it. This can happen if they applied and later realized they weren’t eligible, if they didn’t apply and received the payment in error, or if the government later determines they aren’t eligible. The website has info about repaying - https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/economic-recovery/recovery-benefit
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with us! You can contact LawMatters at firstname.lastname@example.org. For in the moment reference support, you can contact CLBC librarians via our toll-free line, 1-800-665-2570.