Strathcona Regional District directors will give themselves basic medical coverage this year on top of hefty pay raises.
Directors will pay 50 per cent of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums while the regional district will pick up the remaining 50 per cent of the bill. Regional district staff receive 100 per cent coverage.
Brenda Leigh, director for Area D, said MSP coverage is necessary as soon as salaries increase.
“There are reasons why MSP premiums were likely not offered to directors in the past because my remuneration is below the poverty line and below the basic requirement for paying premiums,” Leigh said at last week’s regional board meeting. “If you’re below $22,000 (a year) you can apply for basic premium assistance so there was no need. But if our salaries are going up a little, we’ll have to pay.”
Electoral directors’ salaries, which included Leigh, are going up from $20,699 to $31,128 retroactive to 2012 while municipal directors’ salaries will increase from $10,372 to $12,072 effective in 2015. The chair’s $33,145 addition to his regular directors’ pay will decrease to $19,872 but not until Jan. 1, 2014.
For those with an annual income of $30,000 or more, MSP monthly charges are: $66.50 for one person, $120.50 for a family of two and $133 for a family of three or more.
Emergency program dissolved
Strathcona Regional District directors officially dissolved the emergency grant-in-aid program which provided grants to emergency groups for emergency supplies.
The program was once designed for all regional areas to get involved, but Areas A, C, and D recently opted out, which left Campbell River and Cortes Island left to foot the bill. That prompted Campbell River to leave the program in February, and Cortes director Noba Anderson reluctantly chose to pull the plug on the program last month.
“Other rural areas have opted out,” Anderson said. “I’m not interested in this just being a Cortes service. I think there is value in this being a regional service. I guess I would suggest that the service as presented be dissolved, much to my disappointment.”
Brenda Leigh, director for Area D, said the regional district will save money by ending the program and ensured emergency programs will still have access to regional district grants.
“We’re not abandoning Search and Rescue, we’ll still be supplying them with a grant-in-aid,” Leigh said.