Dear friends and neighbours,
The fall sitting of the Legislature is now underway I just wanted to take a few moments to share some information about some of the work that we’re doing. Our government is focused on ways that we can make life more affordable, improve the services people count on, and create good jobs and a strong, sustainable economy throughout B.C.
To care for kids and help lift families up, our government is making the most significant investment in childcare in B.C.’s history. It’s a $1 billion-dollar investment, starting with an immediate fee reduction for parents of up to $350 per month for eligible childcare spaces. The recently announced Affordable Child Care Benefit (ACCB) will help make child care more affordable for 80,000 B.C. families, and many of them right here in our community.
This new program will expand the household income threshold for qualification to $111,000 — up from $55,000 under the old subsidy. Under the changes, the benefit amount for infant/toddler care has also been increased, with some families now eligible for up to $1,250 a month per child, up from $750 per child — a 67% increase.
Combined with the Child Care Fee Reduction Initiative announced earlier this year, this benefit means some B.C. families may end up paying no fees for the child care they need. When more parents are able to rejoin the workforce, that’s good for people and the economy.
Parents can apply now for the new benefit through My Family Services, a new online process that makes it faster and easier to apply for support. Parents can also use an online estimator at www.gov.bc.ca/affordablechildcarebenefit to see if they are eligible for the benefit and how much they may be able to save each month.
Too many people in B.C. still can’t find an affordable home to rent or to buy. That’s why our government is taking strong steps to tackle the housing crisis by increasing supply, curbing demand, bringing in protections for renters and manufactured home owners, and tackling fraud in B.C.’s real estate market.
We’re building new affordable housing in Langford, Sooke and our region and increasing the average benefit under the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program. As of September 1, 2018, more households and seniors aged 60 and better are now eligible. The average monthly payment for SAFER recipients is increasing by approximately $78 (42%), from $187 to $265.
RAP provides eligible, low-income working families with assistance to help their monthly rent payments. Those with a maximum gross household income of up to $40,000 are now eligible – up from $35,000. The average monthly subsidy for recipients is increasing by approximately $67 (17%), from $405 to $472. To see if you qualify, visit: www.bchousing.org/programfinder
A record-breaking year of forest fires followed quick on the heels of another record-breaking year. I want to thank the firefighters who worked unbelievably long hours to battle the blazes throughout the province and keep our communities and citizens safe. Thank you to TimberWest and BC Forest Service crews who worked to extinguish a fire in the Shirley vicinity.
In our community, we’re working on improving health care options for families in Sooke and rural parts of the constituency. Please watch for announcements in the weeks ahead.
The Roche Cove Bridge replacement project at access to East Sooke is nearing completion. Improvements along Highway 14 are underway including bus pullouts and better line painting. More enhancements are coming.
We’re working as a government in collaboration with local representatives to improve services. Shirley is coping with an aging water system, and we’re looking at ways to address the need.
Municipal elections are October 20th, and I urge you to get to know the perspectives and positions of your local and regional candidates. And make time to get out and vote. It’s so very important.
Over the next few weeks, British Columbians will have a chance to have a say on what voting system we should use for provincial elections. Voting packages for the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform will arrive from Elections BC between October 22 and November 2nd. For more information, visit https://elections.bc.ca/
Please stay in touch on issues that are important to you and your family. I hope you are having a wonderful autumn and enjoying the colours in gorgeous Langford-Juan de Fuca.
Until next time,