Weaver takes aim at MSP premiums

Green Party leader calls for province to roll MSP premiums into existing income tax system

  • Jan. 12, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver is calling for the elimination of monthly MSP premiums.

The B.C. Green Party leader instead wants to see a progressive system with rates determined by a person’s earnings. Calling it the party’s first pledge in advance of the 2017 provincial election, the Green Party contends rolling MSP premiums into the existing income tax system would lead to net administrative savings.

Weaver points out that a person earning $30,000 a year in B.C. is currently paying the same rate for MSP premiums as someone earning $3 million.

“Those who can least afford it are left carrying the biggest burden with the way we charge MSP premiums in British Columbia,” said Weaver. “The government could fix this as soon as next month in the provincial budget. So far the only serious action this government has taken is to continue to annually increase this regressive tax.”

Currently, MSP premiums are charged to anyone who lives in B.C. for six months or longer and requires them to pay monthly premiums for health care coverage. Those earning less than $30,000 can qualify for premium assistance. MSP premiums for single individuals have more than doubled since 2000, with the rate going from $36 a month to $75 a month today. The rate for a family of three is now $150 a month, up from $142 last year.

The Green Party vows to follow the same route taken by Ontario, where premiums go from zero for those with a taxable income of less than $20,000 to $900 a year for those earning more than $200,600.

“If you earn $30,000 or more in British Columbia you are paying the same rate for MSP premiums that Ontario charges its highest earners,” said Weaver. “This unfair head tax on low income and middle class British Columbians needs to end.”

 

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