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

Tofino mayor cheers provincial government’s plastics survey

Mayors of Tofino, Victoria, Squamish and Rossland collaborate on letter.

Youth lead Ucluelet Cemetery nameplate project

Students navigate maps and scour local archives over three years to honour deceased.

Tofino awards $2.4M contract to connect path to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The district announced the project will be paid entirely with grants.

Semi-truck crashes on Hwy. 4 between Port Alberni and Tofino-Ucluelet

Drivers heading in or out of Tofino-Ucluelet Friday afternoon should expect delays

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Vancouver Island RCMP hunt for man after pair of indecent exposure incidents

Elderly Qualicum Beach woman grabbed by man who had been masturbating in the woods

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Pile of wood mulch ‘spontaneously combusts’ at Vancouver Island industrial site

Business owner thanks fire department for quick response

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

Most Read