BC caps rent increase to 2%, bumps up climate credit and family benefit as part of cost of living relief package
“During this extraordinary time, an inflationary increase in rents will be debilitating for 1.5 million British Columbians,” Premier Horgan told reporters
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In front of a field of children playing soccer, Premier John Horgan and Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced new measures Wednesday to help British Columbians adapt to rising inflation.
The new measures, geared towards helping low- to moderate-income people, include a 2% cap to allowable rent increases in the new year, and a boost to the climate action tax credit and BC Family Benefit.
“[These measures] are the next steps we are taking to reduce costs and putting money in people’s pockets,” Robinson said. “Because we know that’s what people need right now.”
Currently, rent increases are capped to inflation, but with record-high inflation rates, the 2% maximum, effective in January for one year, will provide some relief to renters next year.
BC isn’t the first to implement this change. Nova Scotia had already announced a 2023 rent increase cap of 2%, and Ontario decided to cap rent increases at 2.5% for next year.
“Unfortunately, during this extraordinary time, an inflationary increase in rents will be debilitating for 1.5 million British Columbians,” Horgan said.
He added that the province is planning to engage with BC landlords to assist them with costs as well.
Most BC families can also expect larger cheques in the mail in the new year thanks to a $100-million investment into the BC Family Benefit, formerly known as the Child Opportunity Benefit. For the first three months of the year, the benefit will rise by $58.33 per child for each month. This means a family with two children will receive up to $350 more than this year.
Robinson said this will benefit 75% of BC families with children. In October, 85% of British Columbians will receive an increase to their climate action tax credit.
The climate action tax credit will temporarily quadruple for low- and moderate-income people—a one-time increase of up to $164 per adult and $41 per child. These cheques are expected to go out in October.
Eligible British Columbians will receive both of these benefit increases automatically.
In total, Wednesday’s announcement will cost the province $600 million. Sonia Furstenau, leader of the BC Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley said this relief package is a welcome announcement that will benefit many British Columbians—but only in the short term.
“For too long, our leaders have believed in one-off rebates that fail to address systemic challenges that British Columbians are facing and have failed to invest in our crumbling services,” she said in a statement. “This package doesn’t help deliver an ambulance on time or find British Columbians a family doctor. We need a vision that targets long-term financial security, service delivery, and protection against corporate interests.”
In the press conference, Horgan acknowledged that the measures are only helpful in the short-term, but that it’s a start.
“We’re gonna continue to work on these issues,” he said. “It’s not something that you just stop, because inflation starts to go down. The cost of living is a fundamental issue for families, wherever they may live.”
Horgan added that a BC Hydro benefit will be announced later in the year.
—With files from Zoë Ducklow