‘I’m still waiting’: Early applicants frustrated with B.C. Recovery Benefit payout delays

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Some British Columbians have been waiting almost a month for the Recovery Benefit they desperately need because their file is being audited.

Phoebe Addison is one of the many British Columbians, frustrated the COVID-19 cash promised by the NDP government isn’t in her pocket almost a full month after she applied.

“When you promise something, you should at least live up to it,” said Addison.

Addison is immunocompromised, living on a tight budget through disability after a head-on crash forced her to retire.

When the pandemic hit, she started to see her bills increase as she relied heavily on delivery services. So, when the provincial COVID-19 Recovery Benefit opened up online, she was one of the first on the site, refreshing the page to submit her application.

“At 8:29 a.m. I got my confirmation email. I thought great, I can go get my meds,” said Addison. “I’m still waiting.”

As her cost of living increases, she was hoping the $500 she likely qualifies for, would go towards her pain medications, but the money still hasn’t come.

Unable to afford her pain medication, every day since the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit hasn’t come through she says she’s had to live in pain.

“To sit in limbo and constantly deal with pain, it’s not a pretty place,” said Addison.

Addison isn’t the only one waiting for the financial boost from the province.

Many others who applied that first day are telling a similar story, frustrated at being left in the dark now for a month.

“You’re waiting for this money to come in and you’re expecting it to be there as promised, and there’s nothing,” said Tara Bowkett. “There’s no communication and no idea if or when it’s coming. There’s nothing”

Today, however, the Ministry of Finance offered some clarification.

“We ask that people try to be patient as we work through a large volume of applications that have been flagged for review. We’ve added additional staff to help do that,” the Ministry said in a statement.

During a press conference on Thursday, the Premier pointed to the $635 million already handed out.

“Could we have done better? Of course, we could. But I’m confident that the vast majority of British Columbians, at least 1.4 million of them are pretty happy with how the program rolled out,” said Premier John Horgan, referring to the number of British Columbians who have received their payments already.

For those whose applications are under audit, however, the lack of communication and transparency throughout the whole process has been frustrating.

“Let me know what needs to be corrected so I can get that done for you, so I can get that money for our family,” said Bowkett, who is raising two sons with her husband.

“It’s almost like the later that you applied, the faster you got to yours. I feel like they need to take the whole pile, flip it upside down, and start there,” noted Addison.

The Ministry of Finance says they’ll be following up on each application needing review on a case-by-case basis.

“People can be assured we are currently processing these applications and will continue to do so in the coming weeks,” said Finance Minister Selena Robinson to CHEK News in a statement.

“I know that our team is working as quickly as possible to get this benefit out to British Columbians.”

Meanwhile, until her application is approved, Addison says she’s resorted to selling her household items just to make ends meet.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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