Wednesday September 7, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
In his home town, Premier John Horgan today announced a significant financial package to help millions of British Columbians with the high cost of living caused by global inflation.
Afterward on the turf at Goudy Field he kicked a soccer ball around with some local kids. “Sport brings people together, common purpose, mutual objectives, working together, creating friendships and bonds in many cases over a lifetime,” said Horgan, as he mentioned the KidSport which supports kids in sport.
But quickly it was down to business.
Horgan and Finance Minister Selina Robinson had headed out into the sunshine in Langford today, attracting a pack of media professionals from around south Vancouver Island, to hear a much anticipated announcement about financial supports for people in BC as inflation continues grinding away at people’s pocketbooks.
They announced two enhanced tax measures as well as relief for renters.
Feeling the squeeze of inflation:
“Everyone is feeling the squeeze of global inflation, which is driving up the cost of groceries, gas, and other goods and services,” Premier Horgan said. He called the experience of inflation this year as “unprecedented”… “not just here in British Columbia but indeed internationally”.
He rattled off the obvious list of contributing factors: “Despite our best efforts and the pandemic coming upon us, and Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has put us all collectively in a difficult spot,” Horgan told media under bright sunny skies on this warm September day.
“Families are seeing it at the grocery store. We certainly see it at the pumps where we’ve seen a 35-cent drop in gas prices yet they still remain unacceptably high for most British Columbians,” Horgan told the crowd of media, Langford city leaders, and some parents and onlookers.
“Our next support measures will help bring down costs for renters, put money back into people’s pockets and offer families a cushion during challenging times.”
He said the initiatives will “assist families where we can”.
Five years supporting people:
The premier reminds: “Our government started on that footing by eliminating Medical Services Premiums as one of our first acts as government as well as freezing ferry fares for a time, as well as addressing challenges at ICBC, removing tolls on bridges in the Lower Mainland, and the list goes on and on,” said Horgan who brought his NDP government to power in July 2017.
In those five years, child care costs have also been reduced. Free transit for children age 12 and under was introduced. There’s been a steady increase to the minimum wage and income and disability assistance rates.
And just last week, BC announced help families with the cost of school meals and supplies through the delivery of $60 million to school districts who will be expected to apply funds through existing or new programs within their schools. In the Sooke School District (SD62) which has schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke, about $1.2 million will be received for this purpose. Horgan says the funds can be applied for equipment, school supplies, or making sure that meal programs can continue.
Horgan’s team — including a gender-balanced executive council — was instructed from day one to ‘work like every day was their last in office’, politics being a fickle game. But here were are over five years later, with a masterful list of accomplishments as the legacy of Horgan and his team. Horgan will still be the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca this fall as he steps back from being Premier and another NDP MLA is chosen by the NDP membership for that role.
Real cash, coming soon:
The Province is increasing the next Climate Action Tax Credit payment, boosting the BC Family Benefit and capping rent increases below inflation, a package estimated to be worth up to $1,500 for a family of four.
“People with lower incomes and people raising children are the most affected by the cost increases we’re seeing around the world,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “These measures are our next steps in helping to support those who need it most.”
Starting October, low and moderate-income people will see a boost. Next year the BC Family Benefit will go up. Rent increases will be capped.
- In October 2022, the maximum amount for the Climate Action Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income British Columbians will be enhanced by up to an additional $164 per adult and $41 per child. This means a family with two children can receive up to an additional $410.
- In January, February and March 2023, the BC Family Benefit will rise by as much as $58.33 per child, for each month. A family with two children will receive up to $350 from this top-up.
- Instead of allowing rent increases equivalent to inflation, government is placing a 2% cap on rent increases for 2023. For a renter paying $2,000 in rent, this will mean saving up to $816 next year.
Rent increase cap:
“Our government has saved families thousands of dollars by capping rent increases to inflation by eliminating the old government’s automatic 2% rent increase on top of inflation,” said Murray Rankin, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing, in a government statement today.
“But right now, Canada is seeing the highest levels of inflation in decades – especially when it comes to housing costs. By setting the maximum annual allowable rent increase for 2023 at 2%, we’re helping renters keep more money in their pocket.”
“We also recognize that landlords are facing the same inflationary pressure, and we are committed to ensuring that landlords can make the necessary repairs and upgrades to their rental units so they can provide housing for years to come,” said Rankin.
BC Hydro cost of living measure, still to come:
Government is also working with BC Hydro on an additional cost-of-living measure to help B.C. residents reduce expenses during this period of high global inflation.
Currently there is only an extreme-distress support provision for customers under threat of disconnection by the utility. That is provided through the BC Hydro Customer Care Crisis Fund Grant (contributed to by every BC Hydro customer in their bill payments).
For information on new and existing support measures for B.C. residents, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/affordability/family-benefit (http://www.gov.bc.ca/savemoney)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends reports on the news of south Vancouver Island through a socioeconomic lens.
Following news of the west shore as well, since 2008. Island Social Trends Editor and Publisher, Mary P Brooke, has followed news of the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding and John Horgan as MLA throughout that time, based first in Sooke and in Langford from 2017 forward.
Ms Brooke’s series of publications has been recognized for in-depth writing and insights: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and Island Social Trends (mid-2020 ongoing).
Ms Brooke is running for a trustee seat on the SD62 Board of Education in the October 15, 2022 election.
MORE about the Enhanced Climate Action Tax Credit in October 2022:
While the Province works toward a net-zero emissions-free future, the B.C. government uses revenue raised by the carbon tax to reduce costs for people with lower incomes through the Climate Action Tax Credit.
- About 85% of people in B.C. will benefit from the increase.
- The tax-free credit is delivered four times a year, and the amount will depend on family size and income.
- The October 2022 payment is increased by up to $164 for an individual and up to $41 for each child in a family. A single parent will receive $164 for their first child.
- Enhancements are fully phased out at an income of around $148,000 for a family of four.
- The estimated cost of delivering the temporary increase is $500 million.
Bigger BC Family Benefit in January, February, March:
The BC Family Benefit provides a tax-free monthly payment to families with children under the age of 18. Formerly known as the Child Opportunity Benefit, the tax credit was launched in 2020 to help combat child poverty and help low- and moderate-income parents provide opportunities for their children.
- About 75% of families with children receive the BC Family Benefit and will receive the enhanced payments in January through March 2023.
- A single parent with one child can receive up to an additional $58 per month from January to March, or $175 total.
The benefit is fully phased out at an income of $115,000 for a single parent with one child.
- The increase will provide a family of four up to an additional $116 per month from January to March, or up to $350 total.
- A family of four earning less than $117,000 will receive at least $300 more in benefits from January to March.
- The estimated cost of delivering the temporary increase is $100 million.
Helping renters with the cost of living in 2023:
To support renters amid exceptionally high global inflation rates on housing, the Province is capping allowable rent increases below inflation for 2023.
- * The maximum allowable rent increase for 2023 is set at 2%, to help keep more money in the pockets of tenants faced with rising cost pressures.
- * Capping the annual allowable rent increase at 2% instead of the rate of inflation will provider renters with significant savings.
* For example, a renter paying $2,000 in rent will save up to $816 next year. Savings will be higher for people with higher existing rent.
- * If landlords choose to increase rent, they must provide a full three months’ notice to tenants using the correct notice-of-rent increase form. This means the earliest tenants could see an increase in rent is Jan. 1, 2023.
- * The 2023 maximum increase for manufactured home park tenancies will be 2%, plus a proportional amount for the change in local government levies and regulated utility fees.
- * In 2018, the Province capped annual rent increases to inflation, saving renters hundreds of dollars a year. Prior to that, rent increased at inflation, plus an additional 2%.
- * The annual allowable rent increase supports repairs and upgrades to maintain safe housing, while ensuring renters do not face excessive or unpredictable rent increases.
Additional supports are available to help renters with the cost of living, including:
* interest-free loans through the BC Rent Bank.
* Renters with low to moderate incomes facing a temporary financial crisis and at risk of eviction or essential-utility disconnection, may be eligible for an interest-free loan to help them maintain their housing.
* A recent survey of loan recipients found that 94% of people had maintained or improved their housing situation six months after receiving assistance.
* According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, preventing a single eviction saves a tenant $2,932 and a landlord $8,663.
* In December 2021, B.C. became the first province in Canada with provincewide rent-bank coverage.
* Renters can start the application process online: https://bcrentbank.ca/apply/
* Rent supplements for low-income families and seniors renting in the private market: BC Housing’s Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters Program (SAFER) cover part of the difference between a household’s rent and 30% of that household’s income. The programs operate on a sliding scale providing the most funding to those with the least income.Applications are available online: RAP: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-programs/RAP | SAFER: https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-programs/SAFER