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B.C. warns of long wait times as people rush to apply for recovery benefit

Millions are eligible for the BC Recovery Benefit
People are urged to apply online as the fastest way to get the BC Recovery Benefit. Photo: Getty Images

The government says online applications are now open for the BC Recovery Benefit, but the province is warning it could take time to get through.

An estimated 3.7 million individuals and families, or 90% of all B.C. adults, are eligible for the benefit, says a news release.

Up to 350 call centre agents will be available for the first week of applications to help answer questions or complete applications over the phone, said a news release.

“Call volumes, web traffic and delays with banking institutions may result in longer wait times during the first few weeks of the benefit,” the province warns.

People are encouraged to apply online to avoid any potential delays. Most individuals can expect to receive the BC Recovery Benefit within five businesses days after completing their application.

Eligibility includes:

* $1,000 for families with annual incomes under $125,000. Families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount. Single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts.

* $500 for single people with annual incomes under $62,500. Single people earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount.

Applying online is the easiest way to receive the BC Recovery Benefit. To apply, British Columbians can visit:

For those without access to a computer or the internet, starting Monday, Dec. 21, call centre agents will be available to assist people who need help applying or those who want to apply over the phone:

* toll-free within North America: 1-833-882-0020

* Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays), from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Pacific time)

To apply and be eligible for the one-time, tax-free benefit, people must:

* have been a resident of British Columbia on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020;

* be at least 19 years old on Dec. 18, 2020, unless they are the primary caregiver of a child or cohabitating with a spouse;

* have filed a 2019 income tax return;

* have their 2019 income tax notice of assessment, and if applicable, their spouse's 2019 income tax notice of assessment;

* have their Social Insurance Number, and if applicable, their spouse's;

* have their direct deposit information, including branch, institution and account numbers; and

* have their B.C. driver's licence or confirm they do not have one.

People can apply until June 2021.