When it comes to budgeting, the Financial Empowerment team at Family Services always keeps up to date on the latest information on benefits, rebates, and other income assistant programs.
So when the BC Budget was announced on February 28, we did some digging to see how the latest budget can help our clients and everyday British Columbians with their own personal budgets. Here are six highlights that might help put more money in your pocket this year.
Renter’s Tax Credit
This new tax credit will give renters up to $400 back in the form of tax credit (not a direct cheque or deposit). British Columbians who rent for at least six months in a calendar year and who earn $60,000 a year or less will get the full $400. The credit scales up to incomes of $80,000. Renters can file for the credit in their 2023 tax return – which means they won’t see this money in their accounts until spring 2024.
Shelter Rate Increase
A long overdue increase to the shelter rate, which is meant to cover the shelter needs of people on income assistance and disability, will climb to $500 (up from $375). This means that a single person on income assistance will receive $1,060 a month and a single person in the disabilities program will receive $1,483. The increase is effective July, 2023.
BC Family Benefit Increase
Starting July, 2023, families with children will see a 10% increase to the BC Family Benefit. Single parents will receive as much as a $500 annual top-up. What will this look like?
- For a two-parent family with two children, this amounts to as much as an additional $250 per year to help buy food, pay bills and enroll kids in extracurricular activities.
- For a single parent with one child, this amounts to an additional $650 per year or almost $12,000 in extra support over 18 years.
- For single-parent families, a maximum annual supplement of $500 will be provided, which means a single parent with two children could receive up to an additional $750 per year after the benefit increase and the additional supplement.
- For families earning up to an adjusted family net income of $87,533 the minimum benefit will increase to $775 for the family’s first child, $750 for a second child, and $725 for each additional child. This means a two-parent family with two children will receive at least $145 more each year.
Climate Action Tax Credit Increase
This quarterly payment helps offset the impact of the carbon taxes paid by individuals and families. With the changes – effective July, 2023 – a single person eligible for the maximum credit stands to receive $447 this year and a spouse or common-law partner $223.50 – a $193.50 increase. The amount per child will increase from $56.50 to $111.50.
The threshold to receive the full credit is also increasing – to $39,115 for individuals and $50,170 for families.
Free Prescription Contraception
BC is the first province in Canada to make prescription contraception free for women and transgender and non-binary people. Beginning April 1, 2023, the full cost of copper IUDs, hormonal IUDs, hormone injection, hormone implants, oral contraception (the pill), and emergency oral contraception (the morning after pill) will all be covered by PharmaCare. People do not have to register for coverage or fill out any forms. They simply take a prescription and their BC Services Card to a pharmacy.
BC Student Loan Changes
The first increase since 2006, the following increases take effect in June, 2023. BC Student Loans maximums will be doubled from the current $110 per week to $220 per week for individuals, and from $140 per week to $280 per week for students with dependents.
To account for the significantly higher living costs in the current economic climate for those who are just starting their careers, the BC student loan threshold for the start of repayment will increase from the existing annual income threshold of $25,000 to the new income threshold of $40,000. Interest on new BC student loans was eliminated in 2019, while Canada student loans suspended interest charges until March 31, 2023.
While these changes are welcome and will impact countless British Columbians, we know there is still more to be done to make BC affordable for all who call it home. Family Services will continue to advocate for people in poverty and anyone experiencing marginalization.
Want to learn more about these benefits and others you may quality for? Sign up for one of our Financial Empowerment workshops or get in touch with for a 1:1 coaching session. All of our services are free and we offer trauma-informed support in English, Español, Việt, Français, 粵語 (Cantonese), 普通话 (Mandarin), and برای ایجاد (Farsi).