BC Hydro, banks offer payment-deferral options due to pandemic

Customers facing temporary financial hardship may be eligible for help

BC Hydro and Canada’s big banks are offering customers a chance to defer bill payments as the COVID-19 pandemic upends the economy.

BC Hydro has introduced the COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program to help customers experiencing financial hardship during the coronavirus outbreak.

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"We recognize the financial impact COVID-19 may have on our customers due to changes in employment from workplaces closing or reducing staffing levels and want to provide some relief during this challenging time," BC Hydro president and CEO Chris O'Riley said.

"In addition, some customers may experience higher electricity bills due to increased consumption from spending more time at home."

The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program gives customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers can call BC Hydro at 1-800-BCHYDRO( 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options. Expect long waits on the phone.

Customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay bills.

BC Hydro is an essential service with many critical functions that must operate around the clock to power the province. Out of an abundance of caution, it has isolated key areas, including its control centre. It has also increased cleaning at all facilities. To reduce exposure and face-to-face interactions, it has temporarily closed its walk-in customer service desks and indefinitely suspended all non-essential business travel, public meetings and site tours.

Meanwhile, the big banks in Canada are working to provide financial breathing room to customers hurt by disruptions from the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The big six banks — Royal, CIBC, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Toronto-Dominion and National — say they will allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months, among other changes. The banks have urged Canadians or business owners facing hardship to contact them directly to discuss options that may be available.

The move comes as the large banks work together in their efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus by temporarily limiting branch operating hours and reducing the number of branches, while maintaining critical services.

Public health officials have urged people to limit contact with others in an effort to limit the threat of the novel coronavirus. Businesses across the country have responded by cutting back, changing their operations and finding ways to allow employees to work from home.

© Kamloops This Week


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