BC BUDGET: Opposition pans MSP reduction plan

NDP leader John Horgan not ready to announce his own plan to eliminate health premiums, Greens' Andrew Weaver wants it in income tax

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan

Opposition politicians were quick to attack the BC Liberal government’s plan to cut Medical Services Plan premiums by half next year, and eliminate them entirely in future years.

NDP leader John Horgan isn’t ready to announce details of his own promise to eliminate MSP premiums, but he said the plan in Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s pre-election budget is not credible.

“Where was [Premier Christy Clark] on MSP premiums two years ago? When we raised it in the legislature, they laughed at us,” Horgan said. “And now, after doubling MSP premiums, next January, they’ll reduce them by half. Half measures, not good enough.”

Horgan said the release of the budget Tuesday is his party’s first look at the government’s books and forecasts for the year, and his plan to eliminate the premiums will be released “in the weeks ahead.”

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has advocated shifting the $1 billion in revenue from the premiums into the income tax system, so people who make more will pay more. The current system provides low-income reductions and exemption from MSP, but charges others the same rate regardless of their income.

“Two years ago, I brought forward a progressive way to eliminate MSP premiums through income taxes, but the government did not act,” Weaver said. “Now they are making a substantial reduction in MSP premiums for some British Columbians, on the eve of an election.”


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