Increases in taxes and fees may force seniors back to work

A Dashwood resident is wondering how he will make ends meet with all the increases in 2015

Sixty five-year-old Dashwood retiree Sakari Rautiainen says he’s on a fixed income and can’t afford looming tax increases slated for 2015.

Rautiainen said it’s becoming “unaffordable” just to live and he might have to go back to work after ten years in retirement.

“But where am I going to work? And who is going to hire a 65-year-old?” he asked rhetorically. “I have expertise but the physical stuff is out of the question now. And technology has changed so much, I mean when I stopped working, high-speed Internet was just starting to come in.”

Rautiainen spent his career working for B.C. Tel. When he retired, he said he was “financially set.” But things have changed and now he said he can’t even afford to take the ferry.

According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) it’s going to be an expensive year for British Columbians across the province.

“With MSP, EI, CPP, B.C. Hydro, ICBC and B.C. Ferries all going up, it’s no wonder why ‘B.C.’ is joked to be short for ‘Bring Cash,'” said Jordan Bateman, B.C. director of the CTF in a news release.

“For all the politicians’ handwringing about affordability, their actions show it’s a fake concern — their massive increases in taxes and fees continually make it more expensive to live in B.C.”

Bateman said British Columbians are facing tax and fee increases from all three levels of government. The CTF highlighted the following tax and levy increased for 2015:

The Medical Services Premium tax increases $66 for families of three or more; $60 for couples; and $33 for individuals January 1.

B.C. Hydro will raise electricity rates six per cent on April 1, 2015 — approximately $72 for the average home.

ICBC is expected to raise basic auto insurance in 2015 — roughly $36 for the average car.

B.C. Ferries announced a 3.9 per cent fare increase for 2015.

Local governments are currently working on their budgets.

As for Rautiainen, he’s wondering why taxes are going up when the economy has been stagnate for nearly the last decade.

“As far as I’m concerned the economy hasn’t improved, it’s stayed the same for the last seven or eight years yet everything is going up,” he said. “The problem on Vancouver Island is there is no work: the logging industry is gone, the mining industry is gone, the only thing that’s left on Vancouver Island is the fishing industry and even that’s limited because of the rising cost of the ferry — who can afford to take a boat across the ferry?”

Rautiainen said the increasing cost of bare necessities, such as Hydro, is “absolutely asinine.”

Director Bill Veenhof, who represents the area including Dashwood, said this is a common problem in the aging community.

“We have an elderly demographic and many people here are on fixed incomes and have watched their incomes erode due to tax increases,” he said. “These people are on the edge and it’s a big concern this time of year.”

Veenhof said this is a conversation that needs to be had at the provincial level, where many of the tax increases stem from. He said he’d ideally like to see the province hold the line on tax increases.

“The bottom line is there is very little we can do except for keep our own house in order in terms of taxation,” Veenhof said.

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