British Columbia is the only province that requires seniors to pay provincial medical insurance and a group of seniors are calling on the government to eliminate those premiums.
“It’s important for people to know this so we’re speaking up now for everybody who is over 65,” said Beba Adams, chair of the Campbell River branch of the B.C. Government Retired Employees Association, which has spearheaded the fight against medical premiums for seniors. “They’re not aware B.C. is charging us when no other province does.”
Medical Services Plan premiums have been on the rise for years, making it difficult for seniors to get by.
“The MSP premiums have doubled in the last 10 years,” said Sarjit Manhas, president of the B.C. Government Retired Employees Association. “Many seniors in British Columbia are struggling to pay their bills for their daily needs.”
Adams, who gets a public service pension, said in the 1990s the employees association had a contract that bound the provincial government to paying the MSP premiums, but Adams said last year that all changed.
“Right now I pay $22 a month – a portion of the cost,” Adams said. “In April, I’ll have to foot the whole bill.”
In B.C., health care premiums are free for anyone with an annual net income under $22,000.
People who make more than $30,000 a year have to pay the full cost of $60.50 each month per person, or $109 each month for a couple.
“We would like to see the province of B.C. cover all seniors for their medical,” Adams said.
The B.C. Government Employees Association sent a proposal to the government last October asking for the government to get rid of premiums for seniors, but the group has yet to hear back.
Seniors have also received support from several municipalities.
The Union of BC Municipalities, at its general meeting last September, endorsed the City of North Vancouver’s resolution calling on the province to eliminate medical insurance premiums for seniors in B.C.
The resolution was also supported by the Lower Mainland Local Government Association and similar resolutions are supported by the City of Vancouver, the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments and the North Central Local Government Association.
The B.C. Government Retired Employees Association is looking for retired B.C. government employees and their partners to join the association.
The aim of the association is to obtain benefits for its members and to prevent erosion of these benefits.
The association has obtained many benefits for seniors including extended health coverage, cost of living increases, subsidized bus passes, discount hotel rates, group insurance, travel out of province insurance, house insurance, and life insurance.
Membership dues are $20 per year.
For more information or to sign up contact Campbell River branch chair Beba Adams at (250) 926-0044 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org