Rates for transit, medical going up
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
The year 2015 will see a number of tax and fare increases occur in BC throughout the year. Taxes on medical, hydro, and transportation will be raised, as will transit fares.
Already in effect are BC’s medical services plan increases; single person medical plans have increased from $39 to $72, and family plans have gone from $70.50 to $130.50 (for family of two) and from $78 to $144 (for family of three or more). Each has nearly doubled from the previous year’s cost.
Starting April 1, BC Hydro will see a six per cent increase, lower than last year’s nine per cent increase. The adjustment is part of BC Hydro’s 10-year increase plan, which went into effect in 2014 with what is expected to be the largest tax increase. Already confirmed are that 2016 will see a four per cent increase, 2017 will see a 3.5 per cent increase, and 2018 will see a three per cent increase.
Also going into effect on April 1 will be BC Ferries’ four per cent fare increases, replacing the fuel surcharge and raising prices by 0.5 per cent. The fare increase is one of the ways BC Ferries is hoping to work around 2014’s upset over the possibility of cancelling some ferry routes in BC.
TransLink’s previous fare increase was on January 1, 2013 when fares were raised by $0.25 (for one and two zones) and $0.50 (for three zones), and monthly passes were increased by $10 (one zone), $14 (two zones) and $19 (three zones). This spring, TransLink is holding a public vote on whether residents of Metro Vancouver specifically should increase their fare rates by 0.5 per cent. While major fare increases will not be occurring to TransLink this year, increases are expected as the 10-year plan to increase transit throughout BC is planned to total $8-billion.
“There will be a lot more traffic congestion, pollution, sitting in traffic … it’s a costly thing for our economy,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to CBC, in reference to fare increases being a result of increased residency in Vancouver.
By November 1, ICBC will be increasing their monthly rates by $3, bringing the yearly average up by $36 later next year. This increase follows the recent cancellation of the BC AirCare program, which was previously supported by ICBC taxes.
The city of Surrey this year is expected to receive a 2.9 per cent increase to property tax, amongst other tax raises. Part of the tax increase is to pay for additional police service, and, according to CBC, Vancouver may also receive a similar rise in property tax.