B.C. mak­ing af­ford­abil­ity a pri­or­ity

Penticton Herald - - OPINION - JOHN

Our gov­ern­ment wel­comed 2019 by an­nounc­ing that 240,000 lower-in­come fam­i­lies will get the help they need with pre­scrip­tion drug costs. It’s part of our work to make life more af­ford­able, and make health care more ac­ces­si­ble for peo­ple in B.C.

We also cut Med­i­cal Ser­vice Plan fees by half in Jan­uary of 2018, and by Jan­uary 2020 MSP fees will be elim­i­nated en­tirely for ev­ery per­son in B.C. This is one of the big­gest mid­dle-class tax cuts in B.C. his­tory and will put up to $1,800 a year back into fam­i­lies’ pock­ets.

For over a decade, B.C. was the only prov­ince to make peo­ple pay MSP fees. The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment in­creased these pre­mi­ums and down­loaded costs onto you and your fam­ily. Our gov­ern­ment is putting an end to un­fair and re­gres­sive fees and taxes and can­celling MSP pre­mi­ums once and for all.

To make sure peo­ple have the help they need with pre­scrip­tion drugs, we’ve made a three-year, $105-mil­lion in­vest­ment to re­duce or elim­i­nate Fair Phar­ma­Care de­ductibles and co-pay­ments for lower-in­come house­holds.

No one should have to make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion be­tween putting food on the ta­ble and their fam­ily’s health. We know that for many work­ing house­holds, needed pre­scrip­tions were go­ing un­filled too of­ten be­cause de­ductibles were too high. This is a long over­due step for­ward that will im­prove the health and lives of thou­sands of Bri­tish Columbians.

We’re work­ing hard to re­duce fees and im­prove ser­vices for peo­ple across the board.

One of the first fees we tack­led when we formed gov­ern­ment in 2017 was to elim­i­nate bridge tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

We have also frozen BC Fer­ries fares on ma­jor routes, re­duced fares on smaller routes and fully re­stored the se­niors’ pas­sen­ger fare dis­count.

To help fam­i­lies with their monthly child care costs, we in­tro­duced the Af­ford­able Child Care Ben­e­fit ear­lier this year. This ben­e­fit is avail­able to fam­i­lies with a yearly in­come of up to $111,000, and can save fam­i­lies up to $15,000 per year, per child. To sup­port renters, we are cut­ting the an­nual al­low­able rent in­crease by two per cent, so peo­ple can feel more re­lief at the be­gin­ning of ev­ery month.

Our gov­ern­ment is also tak­ing strong steps to tackle the hous­ing cri­sis and de­liver af­ford­able hous­ing for peo­ple around the prov­ince.

We have made the largest in­vest­ment in hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity in B.C. his­tory – more than $7 bil­lion over 10 years. And we’re work­ing to mod­er­ate the mar­ket while in­creas­ing sup­ply, curb­ing de­mand and tack­ling fraud in B.C.’s real es­tate mar­ket.

For too long, too many peo­ple in B.C were left struggling to make ends meet and ac­cess the ser­vices they need.

Our gov­ern­ment is mak­ing dif­fer­ent choices to make life bet­ter and more af­ford­able for you and your fam­ily– in 2019 and be­yond.

We’re go­ing to keep work­ing for you, to build a strong econ­omy, de­liver the ser­vices peo­ple count on and make life more af­ford­able for ev­ery­one in B.C. This is only the be­gin­ning, and I look for­ward to build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture, to­gether.

John Hor­gan is the premier of Bri­tish Columbia

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