By John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
One of the largest tax cuts in B.C. history is one step closer for B.C. families. Our government introduced legislation this week to eliminate MSP premiums entirely on January 1, 2020, saving families up to $1,800 per year.
It’s part of our work to make life better, and more affordable for you and your family. For too long, people in B.C. were left struggling to afford to live here and access the services they need. Our government is making different choices. We’re taking steps to reduce costs and fees, so that you have more money in your pocket for essentials, or to save for the future.
To help families and communities stay connected, we announced this week that ferry fares will remain frozen on major routes and the 15% discount on smaller routes implemented in 2018, will continue through 2019. Ferries are now free for seniors from Monday to Thursday, and we’re increasing service on 10 ferry routes that were cut in 2014, restoring 2,700 round-trip sailings to better serve coastal communities.
We’re working hard to reduce costs for people across the board, so they have more money left over at the end of the month. We’ve eliminated unfair bridge tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, and we cut MSP premiums by 50% in January 2018.
We’re taking strong steps to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable housing for B.C. families, with 17,000 new affordable housing units complete or underway, and a total of 114,000 over 10 years. Our government made the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history – more than $7 billion over 10 years.
Our $1 billion investment in child care has lowered costs for families, increased the number of licensed spaces, and delivered the highest quality of care. Families in B.C. earning up to $111,000 are saving up to $15,000 per year, per child, through the Affordable Child Care Benefit. For parents of children in licensed care, we are reducing costs by up to $350 per month, $4,200 per year, for more than 52,000 child care spaces in B.C.
We eliminated interest on all new and existing British Columbia student loans, so students can focus on their education and graduates can focus on their future. We eliminated Fair Pharmacare deductibles for people with low incomes and invested $42 million to cover more drug options.
Budget 2019 also introduced rent banks to support renters across the province who need an immediate, short-term loan to prevent unnecessary eviction. And through CleanBC, British Columbians can save up to $6,000 when purchasing an electric vehicle and approximately $1,500 per year in gas costs.
Starting in October 2020, through the Child Opportunity Benefit, families will be able to build a better, brighter future for their kids up to the age of 18. Families with one child will receive up to $1,600 per year, those with two children will receive up to $2,600, and those with three children will receive up to $3,400.
The problems facing B.C. families didn’t appear overnight, and they won’t be fixed overnight. Our government is working collaboratively to tackle challenges facing people in B.C. and deliver solutions, every day.
We’re going to keep working hard to make life better and more affordable for people, and build a brighter future for B.C.