Foster defends provincial fee hikes

A local politician is suggesting a financial watchdog group is out of touch with reality

A local politician is suggesting a financial watchdog group is out of touch with reality.

The B.C. Taxpayers Federation has lashed out all levels of government for expected tax and fee hikes in 2015, but many of the complaints are directed specifically at Victoria.

“That’s the taxpayers federation’s view on everything,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“They don’t realize the cost of business to have the best health care system and the best education system. They fail to mention B.C. has the lowest provincial income tax rate in Canada.”

According to the CTF, the tax and levy increases coming in 2015 include:

n The Medical Services Premium tax increased $96 for families of three or more; $60 for couples; and $23 for individuals Jan. 1.

n B.C. Hydro will raise electricity rates 6 per cent on April 1, 2015 – about $72 for the average home.

n ICBC is expected to raise basic auto insurance in 2015 – roughly $36 for the average car.

n B.C. Ferries has announced a 3.9 per cent fare increase for 2015.

“For all of the politicians’ hand-wringing about affordability, their actions show it’s fake concern – their massive increases in taxes and fees continually make it more expensive to live in B.C.,” said Jordan Bateman, CTF’s B.C. director. “Every government and agency seems to get their pound of flesh, and one wonders when enough will be enough.”

However, Foster insists there is a reason why fees are climbing for Crown corporations like B.C. Hydro and ICBC.

“Fees are based on costs. Even with the increase, we still have cheap (electrical) power here,” he said.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has also taken issue with municipal taxes and the federal government raising premiums for Employment Insurance and the Canadian Pension Plan.