KAMLOOPS — Earlier this week, the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers released a statement, revealing the province’s Medical Services Plan is owed nearly a half billion dollars in late payments, a result of a system BC Director for the Federation called “hopelessly flawed.” Yesterday, premier Christy Clark called the BC MSP “antiquated,” “old,” and said the way it’s payed for “doesn’t make a whole ton of sense”. Changes to MSP are on the way, but some critics wonder if those changes will do enough for those struggling to make monthly payments.
Rick Turner of the Kamloops Health Coalition thinks it’s time for a change, when it comes to MSP premiums in British Columbia. “Unfortunately, what we’re hearing from the Premier’s office… is they're going to maintain the tax,” said Turner. “There’ll be some changes… but the tax will still be there. It’ll still be the case [that] they ought to get rid of it, just like they have everywhere else in Canada.”
BC Health Minister Terry Lake says the government understands why some may not agree with the current MSP premiums, but noted it’s a complex issue to undertake. “Premiums are something that some people are in favour of. Others would like it put into taxes.There’s a lot of debate around that, and government is listening,” Lake said in an interview, earlier today.
According to a release from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, there are more than 850,000 overdue MSP accounts in the province, which owe more than $450 million dollars in back payments. Since 2001, those premiums have doubled; BC families now pay $150 dollars per month, regardless of their income.
Turner says that flat payment rate has a far greater effect on those who at lower end of the income scale. “This is a lot harder on young families, for example, who are just starting out,” said Turner. “They’re paying as much on their MSP premiums as a millionaire is. It’s a really regressive tax.”
The government has promised changes to the MSP are on the way, but we’ll have to wait until the provincial budget is revealed next Tuesday to find out what those changes will be.
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