These past few weeks have been historic. We opened a new session of parliament at the B.C. Legislature, with our New Democrat caucus ready and eager to get to work to keep British Columbians safe and healthy. New Democrat MLA Raj Chouhan was elected as Speaker, making him the first South Asian person to serve as Speaker in any federal or provincial legislature in Canada, and the first Punjabi person to hold the role in North America.
Our government announced that applications for the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit open on Dec. 18. This benefit will be $1,000 for families with a household income of less than $125,000, and $500 for individuals who earn less than $62,000. Approximately 3.7 million British Columbians will benefit from this funding, and many will be able to receive it before the end of the year. This money will go directly back into communities as seniors buy gifts for their grandchildren they miss and as families use it to cover rent and groceries. It will provide breathing room and a bit more security to those who need it most and, in doing so, a much-needed boost for our local economies.
Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine doses are arriving in B.C. This is a huge step in our continued fight against COVID-19. The first round of 4,000 vaccines will be administered to Lower Mainland frontline health-care workers. More vaccines will continue to arrive in increasing quantities and will be expanded to other populations across B.C. in a priority sequence. Everyone in B.C. will have the opportunity to get the vaccine by the end of 2021, free of charge.
It’s been a long year and limits to personal connections will make these next few months among the hardest for many. But there is light on the horizon: a vaccine is on the way, the recovery benefit for those who need it most, investments in the hardest-hit parts of our economy and a commitment to getting through this pandemic together.
As always, if you have questions or need any assistance with provincial COVID-19 supports, or other provincial issues, please reach out. My office can be reached at 250-952-4211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace Lore is the MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill and parliamentary secretary for gender equity.