Valerie Stevenson's meagre monthly public service pension was down to $13.33 last month after various deductions, which included the MSP premium she now has to pay.
"All the rates of everything have gone up," the retired senior said on Friday.
NDP leader Adrian Dix and Chilliwack-Hope byelection candidate Gwen O'Mahony were at Stevenson's mobile home park in Cultus Lake to discuss what they call the "impact of BC Liberal polices" on regular people.
? Also at Stevenson's home were Jennifer Woodroff and Richard Hammond, two individuals at different stages of their lives who are having a hard time finding work.
"When you do find work it's hard to keep it," said Hammond, a young man from Hope.
"I can't find anything right now," Woodford said of her job search. "I even applied at Winners for $9.50 an hour. . . . And at the same time the cost of everything is going up."
Dix said Liberal policies that increased MSP premiums, BC Hydro rates and the carbon tax are put on the backs of consumers and are "used to subsidize big business tax cuts."
The Liberal government continues to brand itself as the free enterprise choice for B.C. with the message that a low-tax, business-friendly environment needs to be fostered and maintained to create jobs.
Dix says this message forgets about the middle class.
"Hydro rates and MSP premiums, those are flat taxes whether you make $40,000 or $400,000, these things have an impact on the economy too," he told the Times. "The idea that the middle class should see an increase to subsidize other areas is I think, not justified in terms of its effect on the economy and we've seen this over 10 years. This has been the lowest period of economic growth in my lifetime."
Asked what he would do about the carbon tax, as an example of a tax that hits everybody, Dix wouldn't confirm if it would be killed or kept, but affirmed the proceeds shouldn't go into general revenue.
"If we are going to have a carbon tax we need to link it to promoting transit," he said, adding that the BC Conservatives have promised to kill the carbon tax without explaining where the revenue will be made up.
"It's the NDP who are the fiscal conservatives," he said.
When asked about Dix's criticisms, Chilliwack-Hope BC Liberal byelection candidate Laurie Throness told the Times that these incremental rate increases can't be looked at without the broader context.
He said that MSP premiums are geared towards income and they serve as a reminder that health care is not free. He added that hydro rates "went up a little bit but we still have the third lowest hydro rates in North America."
He also said ICBC rates went up by 2.1 per cent this year, the rate of inflation, but this was after four years with no increases.
"There are inflationary pressures in a successful economy, average weekly income has gone up," he said. "Overall British Columbians are doing better today than they were 10 years ago."
Dix and O'Mahony were both also asked about the latest poll numbers that put the NDP at 43 per cent with the Liberals and Conservatives tied at 23 per cent.
Dix said polls were important for political debate but that was about it.
"It doesn't matter what the polls say," O'Mahony said. "I'm going to keep working hard."
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