MLA Report: Budget 2018 Working to Help Make Life More Affordable

By Carole James

People are at the heart of every choice we have made in Budget 2018. That’s why we’ve introduced a range of measures to help make life more affordable, improve the services people count on, and build a strong, sustainable economy.

I’m immensely proud of this Budget, and I’d like to highlight a few of the improvements that may be of particular interest to you, your family, and your neighbours.

Quality, accessible, and affordable child care

Budget 2018 makes the largest investment in child care in B.C. history to lower costs for parents, increase the number of child care spaces, and make sure those spaces meet quality care standards.

Starting on April 1, 2018, parents with children in licensed care will be eligible for the following fee reductions if their child care provider opts in to the program:

  • up to $350/month for group infant/toddler care
  • up to $200/month for family infant/toddler care
  • up to $100/month for group care for children aged 3-5
  • up to $60/month for family care for children aged 3-5

In addition to directly lowering fees for families with children in licensed care, Budget 2018 will also fund a new affordable child care benefit to help bring more relief to parents. This new benefit, which families will be able to apply for beginning in September 2018, will significantly lower the cost of child care for more B.C. families.

With these changes, families with pre-tax incomes of $45,000 or less will pay little to nothing for child care. Those who make up to $111,000 will receive a reduced amount, scaled according to income.

Helping renters

Budget 2018 invests $116 million over three years to increase the benefits people receive under the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER). Both programs have been struggling to meet demand and neither has had a funding increase for several years.

RAP provides eligible low-income, working families with cash assistance to help with their monthly rent payments. Households making up to $40,000 are now eligible for assistance that averages $500 to $800 per year. Prior to this budget only households making up to $35,000 were eligible for RAP.

The SAFER program helps make rents affordable for more than 17,000 senior households with low to moderate incomes. The changes we are making to SAFER will increase subsidies by an average of $930 per year per recipient.

To see if you are eligible for RAP or SAFER, use this online calculator:

https://www.bchousing.org/housing-assistance/rental-assistance-financial-aid-for-home-modifications/rap-safer-calculator

Eliminating MSP premiums

B.C. is the only province that levies unfair, regressive MSP premiums on families and individuals. Whether a person earns $60,000 or $200,000 a year, they pay the same amount. To make our tax system more fair and progressive, we’re eliminating MSP premiums by 2020, saving individuals up to $900 a year and families up to $1,800 a year.

Making life more affordable

We know that for families earning under $30,000 in net income, needed prescriptions often go unfilled because PharmaCare deductibles are too high. That’s why we’re eliminating PharmaCare deductibles for families with annual incomes below $30,000 and reducing deductibles for those with incomes less than $45,000.

Until we took this action in Budget 2018, deductibles hadn’t changed in 15 years. The changes take effect January 1, 2019.

To learn more and register with Fair PharmaCare, visit www.gov.bc.ca/fairpharmacare.

We have reinstated free bus passes to help more than 100,000 people receiving disability assistance better connect with their communities and the services they rely on.

And we’re making ferries more affordable by freezing fares on all major BC Ferries routes, reducing fares on non-major routes, and fully restoring the Monday to Thursday seniors passenger fare discount.

These are just a few of the many actions we’ve taken in Budget 2018. I encourage you to visit www.workingforyou.gov.bc.ca to learn more, and to contact my office with any questions.

I always appreciate hearing about the issues that are important to you. Please stay in touch.

1084 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3K4
Phone: 250 952-4211
Carole.James.mla@leg.bc.ca
www.carolejamesmla.ca

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