British Columbia

What's going to cost you more — and less — in B.C. in 2019

Food, transit and ICBC rates are a few things that'll be more expensive this year.

Food, transit and ICBC rates are a few things that'll be more expensive this year

Welcome to 2019! Get your wallet or purse ready. (CBC)

Welcome to the new year — one that's going to be more expensive on several fronts.

Here is a run down of some of the things that are going to cost more — and some that will cost less — in 2019.

Food prices

The price of food could increase by up to 3.5 per cent according to Canada's Food Price Report, an independent analysis produced by university researchers.

The annual food expenditure for the average Canadian family of four is expected to increase by $411 in 2019 to around $12,157 for the year.

But meat and seafood are expected to drop in price as demand decreases, with people consuming more plant-based protein.

Researchers look at numerous factors to determine how food prices might change, from the weather, the retail environment and changes among food processors to consumer preferences.

Food Price forecast 2019 (CBC)

ICBC rates

The B.C. Utilities Commission is considering an application from ICBC to increase basic insurance rates by 6.3 per cent.

If approved, the new rate would come into effect April 1 and will mean an average increase of around $60 a year.

Attorney General David Eby revealed last month that ICBC is set to lose $890 million this year, following a $1.3 billion net loss in 2017-18.

MSP

Medical Services Plan premiums will remain the same in 2019 after being cut in half in 2018. In 2020, the monthly premiums will be eliminated.

To replace the revenue lost from the premiums, the government created a new employer health tax, which has resulted in property tax increases in some cities (see below).

There have been no vehicle fare increases since April 2017 and no passenger fare increases since 2016, according to BC Ferries. Both are going up in 2020. (CBC)

Ferry fares

BC Ferries says there will be no fare increases in 2019 or in 2020.

In April 2018, the corporation reduced fares on 21 inter-island and northern routes, as well as the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route, after it reached an agreement with the province to fund the reductions and freeze fares for three Metro Vancouver-Vancouver Island routes.

A passenger travelling between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, 12 years of age or older, currently pays $17.20. Taking a car on the same route costs $57.50.

BC Ferries says in spring 2019 it will offer discount fares on sailings between Vancouver Island and Vancouver at off-peak times.

Transit

TransLink fares will increase by five to 10 cents as part of yearly increases that were announced in the mayors council's 10-year-Vision for Regional Transportation in 2016.

That means a regular, one-zone adult fare will increase from $2.95 to $3.00 on July 1. A one-zone concession fare increases from $1.90 to $2.00.

An adult monthly pass increases from $95 to $98.

TransLink fares are set to increase yearly until 2026. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

Outside the Lower Mainland, B.C. Transit, which operates bus service for 130 communities including Victoria, says there are no fare increases planned for 2019 so far.

Electricity

Hooray! FortisBC electricity customers will see no increase to rates in 2019.

The utility says the last rate change was in 2017. If its application to the B.C. Utilities Commission is approved, it will mark the third year the same rates have been in place.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro rates will continue to stay the same — at least until April — after they were raised three per cent a year ago.

The province has been reviewing the utility to identify cost-savings measures. Recommendations from the review — including possible new rates — will be implemented starting in April 2019.

Most people in B.C. will pay less for natural gas in 2020. (Shutterstock)

Natural gas

Meanwhile, FortisBC will raise natural gas rates by about $68 for the average customer in 2019.

Property taxes

Households in Metro Vancouver will face an average increase of $28 to property tax bills to pay for water supply, sewer and solid waste services.

Meanwhile, Vancouver city council approved an operating budget that will increase property taxes by 4.5 per cent.

In Surrey, property taxes will increase 2.9 per cent this year and in each of the next four years, which will mean an annual median increase of about $60.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story mistakenly said BC Hydro rates were frozen last year. In fact, rates were raised by three per cent.
    Jan 02, 2019 8:44 AM PT

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