January 4th, 2024

Increases to power rates, rent cap mean unaffordable start to 2024

HALIFAX – In the last year, the cost of living has skyrocketed making it harder for more and more Nova Scotians to make ends meet. Now, 2024 kicks off with another seven percent increase in power rates for Nova Scotia families. And the Houston government has announced it will raise the minimum wage by only twenty cents in 2024.

“Everything from the cost of power to fuel to food and medication has gone up. While other provinces have addressed this with expanded social programs, tax relief and indexing, and aggressive affordable housing creation, this government has left people on their own,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “As people face higher and higher cost of living increases, Tim Houston has cut the eligibility for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP), overseen a 14% increase in power rates, reduced protections for renters, and left hundreds living outside through the winter. This government needs to listen to Nova Scotians and address the impact of the rising costs of living in a real way.”

Payments for those who still qualify for HARP were delayed at the end of last year, leaving many seniors and families scrambling to cover heating bills at the start of winter. The Houston government has also increased their rent cap from two to five percent, more than doubling the amount rent can increase this year.

“For many Nova Scotians increases to their monthly budget of $100, $50, or even $20 dollars will push them over the edge and into debt or forced to cut back on other essentials,” said Chender. “What we need is a serious approach to the housing crisis that creates more affordable housing across the province. And we need real rent control that creates a more predictable, fair system for both renters and landlords.”

During the last two and a half years of the Houston government, Nova Scotians have faced massive increases to grocery bills, increasingly high energy costs, and the biggest rent increases in the country.