British Columbians can’t afford to pay for BC Hydro’s boondoggles

(Victoria, 8 July 2013) – BC Hydro ratepayers are in no position to pay for cost over-runs and ill-advised contracts with private power producers at the provincially-owned utility, according to IntegrityBC.

IntegrityBC pointed to figures released earlier this year by the Saskatchewan government and Winnipeg’s Economic Development Office which show that while B.C.’s hydro rates may be among the lowest in Canada, most B.C. families already face the highest provincial tax burden of any province west of Quebec.

“British Columbians know all too well that low income tax rates don’t translate into lower tax burdens and its B.C.’s overall tax burden that’s the real killer of family budgets, not the province’s personal income tax rate,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis.

The B.C. government’s obsession with trying to artificially maintain some of Canada’s lowest personal income tax rates effectively masks the overall “rate creep” that has taken place over the past decade.

“British Columbians are being nickel-and-dimed to death one fee at a time,” said Travis. “Whether its $25 monthly wheelchair maintenance fees, tolls, or threatened hydro rate hikes, British Columbians don’t have the fiscal room in the family budget to pay for waste at BC Hydro or anywhere else in government.”

And the fiscal room of B.C. families to absorb even higher BC Hydro rates is further constrained by some of Canada’s highest housing and child care costs, transit rates and automobile insurance premiums.

Overall, in six of the eight fiscal scenarios presented by Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, British Columbians face the highest cost-of-living in Canada and – according to Statistics Canada – with Manitoba the highest child poverty rate in Canada.

B.C. Energy Minister Bill Bennett may very well try and point to B.C.’s low hydro rates as a way to justify rate increases, but Bennett can’t pick and choose which fees to highlight without taking into account the sum of all those costs on a family’s overall bottom line.

Rate increases will also fall disproportionally on lower-income British Columbians and those on fixed incomes who have less fiscal room in their household budgets to absorb another price shock from the utility.

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For more information:

Dermod Travis, Executive Director
IntegrityBC
250-590-5126
info@integritybc.ca

Winnipeg’s Economic Development Office budget models:

Single Parent, living in rental accommodation, one child, annual income $30,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $1,064
Inter-provincial rank 3rd highest in Canada

Two-Earner Family of 4, annual income $60,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $6,985
Inter-provincial rank 4th highest in Canada

Single Person (Graduate), annual income $50,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $6,621
Inter-provincial rank 5th highest in Canada

Single Person, annual income $30,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $1,744
Inter-provincial rank 6th highest in Canada

Two-Earner Family of 5, annual income $75,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $8,261
Inter-provincial rank 8th highest in Canada

Saskatchewan 2013 Budget Paper “2013 Intercity Comparison of Taxes, Utilities and Housing” models:

Family two adults and two dependent children, owning its own home, annual family income $50,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $4,696
Vancouver 5th highest in Canada

Single person, living in rental accommodation, annual income $25,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $1,533
Vancouver 6th highest in Canada

Family two adults and two dependent children, owning its own home, annual family income of $75,000
Total Provincial Taxes, Credits & Premiums $6,990
Vancouver 6th highest in Canada