LANGFORD, B.C. – The B.C. government has said it will tackle rising costs for food, fuel and other necessities through a series of targeted relief measures including increased tax credits and family benefits worth $600 million, as well as capping rent increases at two per cent.
Premier John Horgan announced the support measures Wednesday at a news conference held at a soccer field in his riding where students were playing in the background.
The Premier said inflation in British Columbia and around the world is driving up costs for families and government measures will provide a cushion during tough times.
Starting next month, about 85% of British Columbians will benefit from the increased Climate Action Tax Credit payment, estimated at $1,500 per year for a family of four, said Horgan.
The BC Family Benefit, formerly known as the province’s Child Opportunity Fund, will provide increased tax-free monthly payments to about 75% of BC families with children under 18, he said. declared.
The Child Benefit will be a temporary measure, running from January to March, but the increase is $58 a month for a single parent with one child, Horgan said.
The actions are aimed at helping people who are suffering from rising costs of goods and services, Horgan said.
“And so by targeting those resources, we’re helping the people who need it the most,” he said. “It’s our choice. Other jurisdictions have made similar choices, others have made different choices.”
“But at the end of the day, we think it’s a fair package that will meet people’s short-term needs,” he said.
Horgan said the government also plans to offer residents a benefit on their electric utility costs later this year, but he did not say what to expect from BC Hydro, owned by the state.
The government said last month it was preparing to introduce a series of cost-of-living initiatives, starting with a $60 million education accessibility fund to ease the burden of living costs. back to school.
The fund will expand school lunch programs and help families pay for supplies and field trips in an effort to reduce extra school costs.
Earlier this year, the Insurance Corp. of BC, the province’s state-owned auto insurance provider, gave vehicle owners $110 rebate checks to offset high fuel costs.
Horgan acknowledged that the government’s decision to keep rent increases at 2% for 2023 instead of the rate of inflation will affect landlords.
He said the government would consult with landlords about the rent cap, but at that time the government decided people needed to know that their rents could only go up by 2%.
“We have a short-term crisis, quite frankly, and 1.5 million British Columbians who are renting will benefit immediately,” Horgan said.
A spokesperson representing 3,300 BC landlords called the 2% cap on rents “concerning and disappointing.”
David Hutniak, chief executive of LandlordBC, said homeowners face the same rising costs as BC residents, with their insurance costs, property taxes and utilities all rising.
“If we don’t start finding workable solutions, it’s really going to put the whole rental housing ecosystem in serious jeopardy,” he said in an interview. “It’s already in trouble but it’s just going to get worse.”
Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced the government’s cost relief plans last month when she presented figures for last year’s final budget, which included a $1.3 billion surplus after previous projections of a deficit approaching $10 billion.
Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said the measures would only bring short-term relief to people in British Columbia
“For too long, our leaders have believed in one-off rebates that fail to address the systemic issues facing British Columbians and have failed to invest in our crumbling services.”
She called for long-term investments in housing, food security, health and transit programs.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 7, 2022.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press