VICTORIA B.C. -- Today Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, discussed the role that the B.C. Greens have played in making MSP premiums an election issue.
In 2015 the issue of unfair MSP premiums was brought to Weaver by a group of seniors in his riding. The annual increase was taking a larger and larger share of their fixed incomes and they were increasingly uncertain about their retirement.
“I brought this issue up as an MLA not to score points, but to raise something that government could take action on that would help make life more affordable for British Columbians,” said Weaver.
“The B.C. Greens forced both of the other parties to adopt this issue into their platforms, because we made it a priority that neither other party could ignore.
“Neither the B.C. NDP nor the B.C. Liberals prioritized this issue until the B.C. Greens put a voice to what many British Columbians had been calling for, for many years.”
The B.C. Liberals and the B.C. NDP have now both committed to some form of MSP reform in their election platforms, but neither other party has clearly stated their plan for their elimination, and neither party will commit to what British Columbians want, which is a complete reform of an unfair tax.
The B.C. Greens have been clear about their plan to eliminate MSP premiums from the beginning: A B.C. Green government would roll MSP premiums into the income tax system, ensuring that they are a progressive tax and reduce the burden on lower-income British Columbians. The plan is fully costed in the B.C. Green Party platform.
“This is the clearest difference between B.C. Green MLAs and those in the other two parties. We are focused on advancing evidence-based solutions that will improve life for British Columbians when they need it, not making political calculations in election years.”
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Backgrounder - MSP Timeline 2015-2017
2015 Key Highlights
“Andrew Weaver, Green Party MLA for Oak Bay, is calling for the province to collect health care premiums through income taxes instead of a flat monthly fee.”
All Points West, CBC - January 23, 2015 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/mla-andrew-weaver-calls-for-new-msp-premium-payment-structure-1.2928966
“It is time for B.C. to replace MSP premiums with a more progressive and equitable approach to funding our healthcare system. Overhauling our current, regressive approach would be a positive step in addressing poverty and income inequality, and ensuring a sustainable health care system for now, and future generations.”
Andrew Weaver, Huffington Post - January 30th, 2015
“Advice for the BC Finance Minister on MSP premiums: listen to the Green Party.”
Dr. Lindsay Tedds, Dead for Tax Reasons - February 16th, 2015
2016 Key Highlights
“In case you weren’t aware, life just got a little more expensive for British Columbians. Medical Service Premiums have just gone up again.”
Andrew Weaver, BC Green Party - January 7th, 2016
“Weaver said his party is advocating designing the system to bring in the same amount of revenue, but without the added bureaucracy of the current system.”
Business in Vancouver - January 7th, 2016
“CBC News has learned the B.C. government plans to reduce monthly premiums for single-parent families in its next budget”
CBC News - January 26th, 2016
“The B.C. Green Party has presented an online petition in the B.C. Legislature, signed by more than 62,000 people from across the province, calling for an end to MSP Premiums.”
CBC News, February 11th, 2016
“‘Unfortunately, it’s turned out to be a very complicated thing to try and change, which I guess is why no government has ever done it or never really tried, (said Christy Clark)’. No government in this province, that is. Every other province that had the premiums has gotten rid of them, either by substituting a payroll tax or rolling them into the income tax system.”
Vancouver Sun - August 2nd, 2016 http://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-premier-says-changing-old-unfair-msp-is-complicated
2017 Key Moments
“With an election coming up in May, the B.C. Liberal government has announced a 50 percent reduction for health care payments.”
Georgia Straight - February 21st, 2017 http://www.straight.com/news/871821/bc-liberals-cut-msp-premiums-half-election-year-budget
“An NDP government would replace Medical Services Plan premiums with a system that taxes people based on their ability to pay, Victoria-Beacon Hill candidate Carole James said Wednesday.”
Times Colonist - April 19th, 2017
“Yet de Jong told me Wednesday that his own plan to eliminate MSP is not an ‘unequivocal promise.’”
The Province - April 20th, 2017
“B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan refused again Friday to say how his party would pay for its promised $1.7 billion elimination of MSP premiums, amid renewed attacks that he’s simply delaying announcing the inevitable tax hike needed to cover the costs until after the election. Horgan sidestepped questions about why two of his candidates have publicly indicated the Medical Services Plan premiums would be rolled into income tax should the NDP win the May 9 election, potentially resulting in higher income taxes for some B.C. residents.”
Vancouver Sun - April 21st, 2017 – Liberals pounce on NDP mixed MSP messages
Andrew Weaver [on MSP]: “You have a plan to develop a plan to come up with a plan.”
John Horgan: “Correct.”
B.C. Provincial Leaders Debate - April 26th, 2017