Renters rebate promised by B.C. NDP not included in 2018 provincial budget

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      The B.C. NDP government is expanding rental-assistance programs for low-income families and seniors in the 2018 provincial budget.

      However, New Democrats failed to deliver on one of their biggest commitments in the election campaign last year.

      “We will provide a refundable renter’s rebate of $400 dollars per rental household in B.C. each year,” the B.C. NDP pledged in the party’s platform. “Homeowners get a break on their property taxes each year; renters deserve a break too, especially with the skyrocketing rents we see today.”

      The rebate is nowhere in the 2018 budget unveiled by the government Tuesday (February 20).

      What can be found is a promise to review the Homeowner Grant, which reduces the amount of property taxes for a principal residence. In Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley, the basic grant is $570.

      According to the plan for housing affordability that came with the budget announcement, “there is no similar support for renters”.

      “The Province will review the Homeowner Grant program to ensure both renters and homeowners benefit in the same way,” the plan stated.

      Regarding subsidies for people living in private rentals, the plan noted that the 2018 budget will invest $116 million over the next three years to increase average benefits under the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) and Rental Assistance Program (RAP).

      According to the plan, seniors, on average, will receive an additional $930 per year.

      More families are also expected to benefit from RAP because the gross-annual-income eligibility will be increased to $40,000 from the previous level of $35,000.

      The province also announced that it is investing $378 million during the next three years to build rental housing.

      B.C. is also investing $550 million for the construction of 1,750 units of social housing for Indigenous residents during the next decade.