No April Fool’s joke: B.C. Liberals making life even less affordable, says NDP

ONCE again, the B.C. Liberals are making life even less affordable for British Columbians – continuing with their ongoing litany of fee and fare hikes, hidden taxes and cancelled discounts.

Starting April 1, the following costs will increase:

* Hydro rates will begin their 28 per-cent climb starting with a nine-per-cent jump April 1. Over the next three years, this government’s hydro hikes will make life less affordable for B.C. families and hurt business to the tune of $2 billion. More than half of that will go into this government’s pocket to pad their budget.

* Ferry fares will increase again by four per cent. This fare hike is on top of another 3.5-per-cent increase ferry users faced in January. Fares have gone up by more than 100 per cent on some routes since the Liberals formed government in 2001. In the meantime, service is getting cut on ferry routes up and down the coast, meaning B.C. families will pay more and get less.

Also on April 1, the following discounts will be cancelled or cut:

* Ferry discounts for seniors will be cut in half. The callous decision by the B.C. Liberals shows the lengths they will go to in order to make British Columbians pay more and get less.

* The LiveSmart program for businesses ends on April 1, eliminating an incentive for businesses to make energy-wise choices, and removing any opportunity for relief from the fee hike on the same day the program ends.

Plus, the B.C. Liberals are hitting families in the pocketbook this year with these increases:

* Medical Service Premiums were increased on Jan. 1 for the fifth year in a row. And they will go up by another four per cent in Jan. 2015. At that point a B.C. family will pay $1,728 per year for the medical services tax. That’s double what they paid in 2001 when the Liberals formed government.

* ICBC basic coverage is expected to increase by between 3.4 and 6.4 per cent by the end of the year.

* Tuition will increase by two per cent, pushing post-secondary education even further out of reach for many families. Tuition has doubled since the B.C. Liberals formed government in 2001.