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

Federal candidates talk most pressing issues in Revelstoke

Concerns include jobs, logging, climate change, affordable housing, Highway 1

Kootenay-Columbia riding candidates have Canada’s highest expense limit

Facebook data also shows who is buying ads on the social media website

Revelstoke roads and weather: avalanche control planned

Expect 20 min road closures west of Revelstoke on Oct. 21

Competition shakes up for the Okanagan Mixoff

The Okanagan Mixoff takes place Nov. 7 in Kelowna

Viral video sensation brings skills to Okanagan

Jacob Moon joins Hear the Music for concert and workshop

Walk this way, if you dare at North Okanagan farm theatre

Caravan Farm Theatre near Vernon presents Walk of Terror

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Park shelter proposed in honour of Salmon Arm volunteer Rob Nash

City council supports plan while family and friends to cover cost of building, materials

Most Read