ICBC rates are up 5.5 per cent

Hydro, ICBC, MSP fees up in 2016

Premier Christy Clark's government has intervened in BC Hydro and car insurance rates, medical premiums up 40 per cent since 2010

Medical Services Plan premiums, electricity bills and vehicle insurance rates are up in 2016, reviving criticism of the B.C. government’s constant boast about keeping taxes low.

MSP premiums rise from $144 to $150 as of Jan. 1, for a family of three earning more than $30,000 a year. For a single person in the same income group, the rate goes from $72 to $75, with lower rates for lower incomes down to $22,000 a year, where premiums drop to zero.

B.C. is now the only province in Canada with a health care fee, and it has risen about 40 per cent since 2010. Premier Christy Clark has defended the fee as a signal to citizens about the enormous cost of providing health care.

BC Hydro rates have been politically dictated since Clark and Energy Minister Bill Bennett intervened to cap rate increases in 2013. Hydro rates jumped nine per cent in 2014, followed by annual increases of six, four, 3.5 and three per cent in the 10-year rate plan. Starting with the proposed four per cent increase in 2016, the independent B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) is reviewing if rate increases can be lower than what is capped in the rate plan.

Insurance Corporation of B.C. basic vehicle insurance went up by 5.5 per cent on Nov. 1, an increase still subject to review by the BCUC. That works out to an increase of $3.70 per month added for the average driver.

ICBC had proposed the maximum 6.7 per cent increase to cover increasing costs of personal injury claims and fraud, but the province gave it permission for a one-time transfer of $450 million from its optional insurance business to subsidize the basic rate.

In a year-end interview, NDP leader John Horgan stopped short of promising to eliminate MSP premiums, but he called it a “regressive tax” that would be part of a broad review of B.C. taxation fairness if he wins the 2017 election.

The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation says people who benefit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised middle-class tax cut will see most of those savings eaten up by provincial and municipal tax increases.

Trudeau vowed to reduce the federal income tax bracket between $45,282 and $90,563 from 22 per cent to 20.5 per cent, and increase the rate for income over $200,000 from 29 to 33 per cent. The change would provide up to $2,000 in tax relief for middle-income earners, with dual-income households benefiting most, CTF federal director Aaron Wudrick says.

Municipal taxes are expected to increase across the province in 2016, with local councils preparing to set budgets for the new fiscal year that starts April 1. Port Alberni has proposed a seven per cent increase, and the CTF says it hasn’t found any B.C. municipalities yet that propose to freeze or lower property tax rates.

With the rapid rise in property prices continuing in parts of the Lower Mainland, the B.C. Assessment Authority sent out 37,000 letters in December, warning single-family homeowners to brace for a big jump in their assessed value.

 

Just Posted

MLA Adam Olsen calls for ‘substantial’ changes in provincial economy

Green Party MLA also criticizes gap between government rhetoric and actions

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Sharks beat Canucks 4-2 to snap 6-game skid

Vancouver visits Vegas on Sunday

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Most Read