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About 300,000 COVID-19 Recovery Benefit applications under manual review, says premier

Last Updated Feb 2, 2021 at 10:58 pm PDT

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Summary

About 300,000 COVID-19 Recovery Benefit applications are still under manual review, the premier says

For an Abbotsford woman counting on the one-time payment, the wait has been difficult

1.8 million British Columbians have received their benefit payment

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – For many British Columbians, the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit has offered relief, but the premier confirmed Tuesday that there are still hundreds of thousands of applications under manual review.

A month and a half after applications opened for the one-time payment, about 300,000 cases have to be reviewed by staff, with frustration growing for those who need the money.

For Jeannine Buck of Abbotsford, who is trying to live off $1,300 a month and says she only has about $100 in her bank account, waiting for the money is challenging.

“I feel very frustrated,” she tells NEWS 1130. “Times are very difficult. Things have become very expensive out in the stores. Food and cleaning products have tripled in price. I’m feeling a little bit helpless at the moment.”

She has a visual disability and was hoping to use the benefit to springboard her home business. Buck is among those waiting for the money after she applied on Jan. 8.

“This is preventing me from moving forward with revamping my career in marketing after losing my eyesight,” she says.

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Buck says she still hasn’t heard back from the province since submitting her application, and the lack of communication makes her doubt the province’s management of the program.

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.

Despite the remaining applications, Premier John Horgan insists he’s proud of the nearly $1-billion program rollout.

“1.8 million British Columbians have received this pandemic benefit. There about 300,000 outstanding applicants that we’ve literally gone case by case,” he said. “When you consider that this is just a little over a month and a half since the program was initiated, to contemplate the notion that $900 million — just shy of a billion dollars — has been transferred directly to British Columbians, it’s quite extraordinary.

He acknowledged the frustration many people are feeling waiting for the benefit, but said the delays are caused by “legitimate reasons.”

“There’s an error somewhere, and we work together to find that error,” he said.

Buck would like to see people with disabilities, as well as single parents, better prioritized in receiving the benefit.

“I actually have to question if the disability amount was reduced in order that people could receive this benefit in a timely manner, and I am questioning how they prioritize the applications,” she says.

About 80 per cent of those who applied for the benefit have received their payment, according to an email from the Ministry of Finance.