Every year has its financial ups and downs. Though 2021 has just begun, it, too, will have peaks and valleys.
Here’s a breakdown of what is going to cost British Columbians more – and less – this year:
Minimum wage is set to increase to $15.20 per hour in June 2021; this follows an upward, government-mandated trend at the beginning of every June since 2018, when minimum wage was set at $12.65 per hour.
In early December, the transportation ministry announced B.C. Transit and TransLink fare changes will remain capped at affordable levels until the end of March 2024, thanks to support from pandemic-related funding.
As for B.C. Ferries, there will be no fare increase as the fiscal year closes at the end of March. Meanwhile, future increases are limited to rate caps established pre-pandemic.
ICBC recently applied for a 15 per cent decrease for basic vehicle insurance, which is a big step toward their promise to reduce insurance costs by 20 per cent. Optional insurance rates are expected to see a cut effective Feb. 1 of this year.
BC Hydro and carbon tax
Meanwhile, B.C. Hydro has submitted a request to the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) for a 2.7 per cent rate increase beginning April 2021. This follows a 1 per cent decrease announced in April 2020 that cut average residential bills by $16 per year. Natural gas rates will see a significantly sharper increase as the BCUC approved a 6.59 per cent hike, coming off of a 2 per cent increase the previous January.
The provincial carbon tax is scheduled for an increase from $40 to $45 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e)starting in April 2021 with an additional $5 increases per tCO2e the following year.
Other costs and fees
Two other tax changes are slated to take effect in April, including eliminating PST exemption for carbonated beverages containing sugar or natural and artificial sweeteners and new PST regulations for e-commerce businesses based outside the province.
– With files from Tom Fletcher