British Columbians forced to evacuate their homes during emergencies such as fires, floods and earthquakes, will receive emergency funds faster than before, because the province will use e-transfer to distribute money for things like food and clothing to evacuees.
Announced Wednesday (July 27), this upgrade will get money into the bank accounts of evacuees quickly so they can buy the things they need, which will decrease the strain on both evacuees and the suppliers of goods, the province said.
British Columbians will need to register online for this service using their BC Services Card app.
This e-transfer tool is part of the government’s plan to upgrade emergency support services’ digital system, which was originally launched during May 2020.
Local authorities and First Nations will continue to direct evacuation plans and administer support on the front-lines, so the province is working with the communities to implement the new system.
On average, 30,000 people use emergency support services each year, and the province said this number was higher during the fires and floods of 2021. During previous large-scale evacuations, emergency reception centers struggled to keep up with the needs of evacuees, which led to long lines and delays.
Emergency support services provided support by paper referral to specific suppliers and the system upgrade will help the province pay suppliers for essential goods faster.
Evacuees may also receive funds for other needs, such as temporary housing for people who do not have other options. Those who have other support through insurance or staying with friends and family will continue to use those options first, according to the government’s statement.
In the announcement, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said it is important for people to register ahead of time.
“As part of getting prepared for emergencies, I encourage everyone, especially in areas at risk of flooding and wildfires, to pre-register with ESS [emergency support services] online by using their BC Services Card app to log in. Doing this now will ensure you get the support you need quickly, during an emergency.”
Residents can register for the e-transfer emergency funding through an online emergency support services application. To access the application, residents need to log in with their BC Services Card app.
People who do not already have their ID set up on the BC Services Card app will need to verify their identity through a video call or in-person at a BC Services location.