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Changes in fees, rates for B.C. in 2018: It’s not all bad news

Click to play video: 'You’ll win some, you’ll lose some in 2018' You’ll win some, you’ll lose some in 2018
WATCH: The new year means you'll be paying the government less for some things, and more for others. Aaron McArthur breaks down the savings, and the extra costs – Jan 1, 2018

It’s a new year and that means changes to some rates and fees in 2018.

One of the biggest and immediate change is to Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums, which have now been cut by 50 per cent.

Currently, most adult B.C. residents pay a $75 monthly premium for healthcare services.

The former B.C. Liberal government announced in its pre-election budget that it would cut MSP premiums in half — slashing payments by about $450 year for the average British Columbian.

The NDP government has now launched a task force to guide the province to the elimination of MSP premiums within four years.

READ MORE: NDP launches task force to guide elimination of MSP premiums

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FortisBC is also dropping its rates.

Starting Jan. 1, gas customers across the province will pay the same rates, after the company completed phasing-in harmonized prices in 2017.

Because of the harmonization, the rate drop will vary depending on where you live in B.C.

  • The Lower Mainland, Interior, the North and the Kootenays: six per cent or $45 per year
  • Vancouver Island: 15 per cent or $85 per year
  • Whistler: 23 per cent or $245 per year
  • Fort Nelson: two per cent or $20 per year

READ MORE: FortisBC to slash natural gas rates in 2018

BC Hydro is not dropping rates but it’s not increasing them either.

In November, the company announced it is holding off on a planned rate increase while the NDP government undertakes a comprehensive review of the electric utility.

READ MORE: BC Hydro backs off rate increase as NDP plans comprehensive review

Starting April 1, fares for the major BC Ferries routes will be frozen.

And while no date has been given for rolling back fares on minor routes, the Ministry of Transportation said those changes will be made, along with reinstating free tickets for seniors travelling between Mondays and Thursdays.

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Going up

For residents of Vancouver and Kelowna, property taxes are going up this year.

The City of Vancouver has approved its 2018 capital and operating budget — and with it, an unexpected property tax hike.

Staff had originally recommended a 3.9 per cent hike but Vision Councillor Raymond Louie made a last-minute proposal to increase it again by 0.34 per cent.

READ MORE: City of Vancouver approves 2018 budget, with a last-minute property tax hike

The 4.24-per-cent hike was approved by all Vision Vancouver councillors and the mayor, but NPA Coun. George Affleck disagreed with the move.

Meanwhile, residents in Kelowna are facing a 3.6 per cent property tax hike.

Mortgage changes

Come Jan. 1, Canadians getting, renewing or refinancing a mortgage might have to prove that they would be able to cope with interest rates substantially higher than their contract rate.

New rules by Canada’s federal financial regulator announced in October mean that even borrowers with a down payment of 20 per cent or more will now face a stress test, as has been the case since January 2017 for applicants with smaller down payments who require mortgage insurance.

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