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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Community Kitchen blessed by Laichwiltach First Nation

Hama?Elas Community Kitchen will provide safe place to eat for Campbell River’s vulnerable

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read