OPINION: Making life more affordable for you and your family



TOO many people in B.C. have struggled to make ends meet and find a home they can afford. The holiday season often adds the financial strain of travel and entertaining, and combined with the high costs of rent, child care and other expenses, it can be overwhelming.

Our government has been working hard to make life more affordable for all British Columbians – through the holiday season and throughout the year.

The housing crisis was allowed to escalate for over a decade without government action. We’re taking strong steps to tackle it and deliver affordable housing for B.C. families.

We’ve made the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history – more than $7 billion over 10 years. We’re working to curb demand and bring in protections for renters and manufactured home owners. And we’re using tools to moderate the housing market, like the speculation and vacancy tax.

Through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, we are building 14,000 new affordable homes for low and middle-income individuals, seniors and families, which is our first step to build 114,000 homes for people over the next 10 years. To help renters, we are taking the recommendations of B.C.’s Rental Housing Task Force and cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, while increasing funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch. We also closed the fixed-term loophole and the geographic loophole, which gives renters more protection from unfair evictions and rent increases.

To care for kids and help lift families up, we created a child care fee reduction of up to $350 per month for eligible child care spaces. We also introduced the Affordable Child Care Benefit earlier this year, which is available to families with a yearly income of up to $110,000, and can save families up to $15,000 per year, per child. To make licensed child care more accessible, we invested $237 million into the creation of 22,000 new licensed child care spaces around the province.

In November 2018, our government launched 53 prototype projects around the province that will deliver child care at a cost of $200 per month, per child. These prototype sites are the next phase in our government’s 10-year universal child care plan, and will model high-quality, affordable child care that will be accessible to families in every corner of the province.

To lower more costs for families, we’ve reduced MSP fees by 50% and will eliminate them fully by 2020. Eliminating MSP premiums is one of the biggest middle-class tax cuts in B.C. history, putting up to $1,800 a year back into families’ pockets.

We froze BC ferry fares on major routes, reduced fares on non-major routes and fully restored the seniors’ passenger fare discount. And we eliminated bridge tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

The problems facing families in B.C. weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be fixed overnight.

Our government is going to keep working hard to make life more affordable for you and your family, improve the services you count on, and build a better province with more opportunity for the people who live here. So you can have less stress this holiday season – and year round.