VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — What was supposed to be some financial relief right in time for the holidays has yet to reach the bank accounts of hundreds of thousands of British Columbians still anxiously waiting.
Danielle Campbell is a single mother of three, including a son with special needs, who applied the day after the B.C Recovery Benefit applications opened, Dec. 19.
More than a month later, she hasn’t seen the money.
“I feel like if the government is going to promise money to help out during COVID-19, they should honour it and try to work as hard as possible, or consider the families who have children, or consider the importance of making a campaign promises when you’re unable to fulfill it,” she tells NEWS 1130.
She tried reaching out to the province through email only to be met with an automated response, saying not to contact again due to a high number of responses. After holding off for a while, Campbell says her second attempt to inquire about her benefit never received a response.
Based on a sliding scale, eligible families and single parents could get up to $1,000, and $500 for individuals from the one-time tax-free payment.
“I think anybody could use this money,” Campbell says. “Christmas is expensive, January is the most daunting month out of every month in the year.”
For a single-income household, Campbell says the money could go a long way.
“For me to be able to fend for my family is tough,” she says, explaining she had worked in the restaurant industry for 16 years. “We know where that’s gone to, due to the pandemic.”
The relief payment could go toward feeding her family or covering some of the prescription costs for her son, she adds.
“I don’t know what I can do at this point,” Campbell says. “I feel like we’ve been kind of [put] into a position where we’re not getting any answers. I feel like we’re at a standstill.”
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Campbell’s story isn’t unique.
While 70 per cent of applicants received their benefit within about five days after their automatic approval, there were 432,572 applications still stuck in the review process that require someone to manually look at them as of Tuesday night, according to an email from the Ministry of Finance. At least 71,618 applications have already been manually reviewed.
The one-time payment was part of the BC NDP’s election platform, and Premier John Horgan had said he hoped for the money to make it to most British Columbians by Christmas.
But the experiences have differed greatly, with some requiring extra documents, delaying the entire process further.
While acknowledging the frustration the extra documents caused, the ministry explains to NEWS 1130 that about 150 people have been reassigned to speed up the process.
Campell says she would like the province to reach out, even to say the application is still in the works and provide some peace of mind.
“I just wish they would get back,” she says.
More than one million applications have been approved, which the province ministry notes represents 1.5 million British Columbians.
-with files from Denise Wong