April 1: Welcome to more expensive hydro, ferries and liquor

THE Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) on Tuesday reminded British Columbians about significant increases at BC Hydro, BC Liquor, and BC Ferries coming into effect April 1.

“The nickel and diming of B.C. government increases continues, and cash-strapped taxpayers are the ones being treated as April fools,” said Jordan Bateman, the CTF’s B.C. Director. “Tomorrow, it’s hydro, liquor and ferries. Next month, it’s property taxes and likely ICBC. In January, it was CPP, EI and MSP. It never ends for taxpayers.”

Three increases come in April 1:

* BC Hydro will raise electricity rates six per cent – approximately $72 for the average home.

* BC Ferries is raising fares 2.9 per cent, meaning a family of four will spend $8.10 more on a return trip.

* The BC Government is raising liquor prices $1 to $6, depending on the product.

Several cities are still working on their 2015 budgets, but a few have already announced property tax hikes for this year, including $63 for the average Vancouver home; $162 for the average Surrey home, and $60 for the average Kelowna home. City taxes are due before July 2.

It could get worse for taxpayers. ICBC is in the final stages of seeking BC Utilities Commission approval for a proposed $36 increase on basic auto insurance rates.

These increases come after two January 1 tax hikes:

* The Medical Services Premium tax, which went up $66 for families of three or more; $60 for couples; and $33 for individuals.

* EI and CPP taxes went up $23.

In the Lower Mainland, voters are casting ballots on a new 0.5% TransLink sales tax, which would increase costs by $258 on the average household. Results are expected in early summer.