Province announces task force to end B.C.’s MSP premiums

Commitee expected to deliver a final report on its findings to the government by March 31

An expert task force will advise the British Columbia government on how to eliminate medical premiums within four years.

Finance Minister Carole James says the panel’s expertise “will ensure the path we take is fiscally responsible, fair and evidence-based” as the government seeks to eliminate ”regressive” Medical Service Plan premiums.

The task force will be chaired by Prof. Lindsay Tedd, an expert in applied economic research and policy analysis at the University of Victoria.

Paul Ramsey, a former NDP cabinet minister for health, environment and education, has also been appointed to the task force along with David Duff, a law professor from the University of British Columbia.

The NDP government already announced in its budget plans this fall, which will cut premiums by 50 per cent as of Jan. 1. That would save individuals up to $450 a year and families up to $900.

The threshold for households exempt from the premiums was also raised by $2,000, meaning couples with a net income of up to $35,000 and single parents with two children and a net income of up to $32,000 would pay nothing.

“People know that MSP premiums are unfair and place significant burden on British Columbian families,” James said Thursday in a news release.

The New Democrats had promised ahead of the spring election to get rid of the premium in favour of a progressive tax system similar to other provinces where higher-income earners pay more than middle- or lower-income earners.

The move to get rid of the fee was also included in Premier John Horgan’s list of priorities for James after the NDP took power in June.

The former Liberal government had also promised to cut premiums in half as of January, but the party said ahead of the election that it wouldn’t ditch the fees within the next three years.

The Liberals said eliminating the fee would cost the province $1.7 billion.

The Greens want to roll medial premiums into payroll and personal income taxes.

The newly appointed task force will consult citizens, businesses and other groups on their views of replacing the premiums and look at health funding models in other provinces to determine an alternative revenue stream that is stable, efficient and simple.

Keeping the premiums in place or increasing provincial sales tax are not options the task force is allowed to propose.

It is expected to deliver a final report on its findings to the government by March 31.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Families learn to navigate the perils of the Internet

Speaker talks to Campbell River kids, parents about staying safe in a social media world

‘Priceless’ hat stolen from Indigenous art store in Campbell River during break-in

Ernie Smith, co-owner of Awatin Aboriginal Art, looking for help in recovering stolen hat

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

BC Hydro increasing flow down Elk Falls to assist steelhead migration and spawning

Water flows within Elk Falls Canyon are increasing today to assist steelhead… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Most Read