The cost of living in B.C. is notoriously high, and it looks like it’s only going to get worse in 2016.
The province is bracing for a slew of new fee hikes and taxes in the new year, with residents to pay more for everything from car insurance to corn on the cob.
Among the expected increases this year are a mixed bag of fee hikes.
For those earning more than $30,000 a year, the cost of health insurance is going up. A family of three will pay an extra $72 a year, a couple will pay $66 more, and individuals $36 more in MSP fees.
ICBC is also hiking rates by 5.5%, a jump still subject to review by the B.C. Utilities Commission. That’s down from the 6.7% hike it had originally requested, but is still estimated to cost drivers about $3.70 a month, or about $44 a year.
BC Hydro rates will jump as well, part of a 10-year plan to raise rates by 25%. This year’s maximum allowable increase is 4%, which is estimated to cost the average household about $50 a year.
BC Ferries has approval from the Ferries Commissioner to hike fares by 1.9% this year, down from 2.9% last year. For an adult passenger travelling Vancouver-Victoria, that means a jump of about $0.30, while a vehicle fare would jump of about $1.05.
Homeowners and renters dinged
If you own your home, get ready to open your wallet.
Around the region, property taxes are expected to jump, partly based on skyrocketing home values.
Earlier this year, BC Assessments issued a notice warning homeowners of an unusually high jump in the value of their properties, with spikes as a high as 15-25% for single-family homes Metro Vancouver municipalities including Vancouver, Surrey, the Tri-Cities.
“Some property owners across the Greater Vancouver region can expect their 2016 property assessments to increase notably more than the average.”
Strata increases are predicted to jump about 10%.
Vancouver has also approved a property tax increase of 2.4%, which the Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates will cost homeowners about $100 a year. While the numbers aren’t in yet for Surrey, Councillor Tom Gill, Chair of the city’s finance committee is projecting a bump of 3.9%, partly to pay for an influx of new Mounties.
Homeowners will also be shelling out more to Metro Vancouver, with water, sewer, and regional service rates climbing by $9 in 2016. “Tipping fees” for taking junk to Metro Vancouver dumps are also going up.
Renters aren’t off the hook either. The maximum allowable rent increase for 2016 is now 2.9%, up from 2.5% in 2015.
And that’s just for renters who stay in their home. Earlier this year The Goodman Report, which studies rental properties, warned of a “rent increase tsunami” in suites changing occupants, sparked by the region’s extremely low vacancy rate.
“Rent increases in the 10–20% range are becoming commonplace at suite turnover.”
The sinking dollar coupled with the effects of El Nino on crops is expected to add a little sticker shock to consumers at the grocery store as well.
A report earlier this month from the University of Guelph Food Institute estimates the cost of food will outpace inflation, jumping between 2-4%. It estimates that increase will cost the average household up to $345 more per year. Meat, fruit, and vegetables are leading the increase in prices.
Under the Trudeau government, taxes for people earning between $45-$90,000 will drop from 22% to 20.5%. The Liberals estimate the cut will save up to $670 per person, per year – or $1,340 for a two-income household.
The Conservatives’ Universal Child Care Benefit is also being replaced by the Liberals’ Canada Child Benefit which will now be a tax-free payout.
That’s being offest by a new tax bracket for those earning more than $200,000, who will now pay 33%, up from 29%.