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Blog by Kevin Wong

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Rate Hikes, Tax Increases and Higher User Fees to Ring in the New Year

Once the holidays are over, B.C. residents are going to feel the pinch — and not just in their waistlines.

Besides property taxes, which are going up in nearly every municipality, a wide number of user fees and premiums are also increasing in the new year.

In Vancouver, homeowners will pay about three per cent more in 2013 on their property taxes and utility bills.

The cost of health care premiums is set to rise in the province, from $128 to $133 per month for a family, adding up to $60 per year, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“Most of us would say, ‘OK, we can squeeze out five dollars a month somewhere,’ ” said spokesman Jordan Bateman.

But, he added, this is the fourth January premiums have increased and “it’s really starting to weigh down taxpayers.”

Federally, Employment Insurance and Canada Pension premiums will also increase.

Workers who make over $47,400 will pay $891, up $51 from last year, and employers will pay $1,247 in EI premiums, up $72. Workers and employers will both pay an extra $49 in CPP premiums, with workers paying $2,356 in 2013.

The cost of getting around is also going up.

Stepping on a the bus or train in Metro Vancouver will cost 10 per cent more starting Jan. 1, with TransLink adult one-zone fares set to rise to $2.75 from $2.50, two-zone fares up to $4, and three-zone fares up to $5.50. Day passes, Fare cards, and West Coast Express tickets will also cost more. Cash fares have not increased since 2008, the transit authority said this fall.

Fraser Valley Transit fares are increasing 28 per cent in January, the half-price tolls on the new Port Mann Bridge end in March, and the Golden Ears Bridge toll rises with the rate of inflation, 1.4 per cent, on July 15.

Despite the recent decline in the cost of fuel and cancellation of the fuel surcharge, BC Ferries approved a 12-per-cent increase over three years, even as cuts to routes in the Lower Mainland, Nanaimo and Victoria were announced this fall. The first 4.1-per-cent rate hike is scheduled to take effect April 1, followed by another four per cent in 2014 and 3.9 per cent in 2015.

Even sitting around the house will cost more: regional property taxes go up by 1.35 per cent July 1 and TransLink property taxes increase 1.5 per cent the same day.