The Province has introduced direct payment for evacuees as part of their upgrades to Emergency Support Services (ESS).

People in B.C. forced from their homes by fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies may receive ESS support for immediate needs when alternative supports, including insurance or accommodation with friends and family, are not available.

ESS recipients may now utilize E-transfer services by the program after being evacuated and registering with the online Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA) tool.

“During past large-scale evacuations, we have seen delays and long lineups at reception centres, causing delays for people registering for ESS. With these upgrades, we’ll get money straight into evacuees’ bank accounts and give them the choice of where to spend these dollars,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“As part of getting prepared for emergencies, I encourage everyone, especially in areas at risk of flooding and wildfires, to pre-register with ESS 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.”

To be eligible for an e-transfer, people must log in to ERA online with their BC Services Card app and register. The BC Services Card app is available to download from the Apple and Google app stores.

Modernizing the registration system ensures evacuees can have with quick access to the supports they need that was previously provided with paper referrals for specific suppliers. The upgrades will also speed up payments to suppliers and bring relief to suppliers who have felt burdened during previous emergency events.

“Evacuation is stressful, and people evacuating their homes and communities need access to money and support quickly and simply; these changes will do just that,” said Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural and Regional Development.

“I am so grateful to all the ESS volunteers who have done incredible work during the added complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic during B.C.’s recent and repeated disasters. These upgrades will give volunteers more time to focus on what’s most important – evacuee care, make evacuees’ lives simpler, and eliminate more headaches for our small businesses.”

Evacuees should follow directions from their First Nation or local authority, including evacuation alerts and orders. As First Nations and local authorities work to implement and train on the new system, the Province will continue to work with communities to ensure it runs smoothly.

To pre-register for Evacuee Registration and Assistance (ERA), please visit ess.gov.bc.ca. To learn how to set up the BC Services Card app please go to https://gov.bc.ca/bcservicescardapp.