[MEDIA RELEASE] B.C. Greens pledge to scrap unfair MSP Premiums

Victoria, B.C. – The BC Green Party today announced its first pledge in advance of the 2017 provincial election.

A B.C. Green Party government would eliminate the regressive monthly MSP premiums. Instead, a B.C. Green government would introduce a progressive system in which rates are determined by one’s earnings. A net administrative savings to taxpayers would arise in rolling MSP premiums into the existing income tax system.

Currently, MSP premiums are charged to anyone who lives in BC for six months or longer and requires them to pay monthly premiums for health care coverage. While some individuals can apply for premium assistance, these subsidies dry up as soon as a person earns a net annual income of $30,000 or more.

If you earn $30,000 a year in British Columbia, you are paying the same rate for MSP Premiums as someone who is earning $3,000,000 a year, making MSP premiums a regressive tax on British Columbians.

“Those who can least afford it are left carrying the biggest burden with the way we charge MSP premiums in British Columbia,” said Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay Gordon Head. “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.”

Back in 2000, the MSP premium for a single individual was $36/month. Today, that same individual pays more than twice as much, now up to $75/month. Since 2010 alone there has been a 40% increase. For a family of three your new rate as of January 1st 2016 is $150/month, up from $142/month.

The B.C. Green Party is pledging to follow the path taken by Ontario in 2004 when they introduced their version of medical service premiums, making them part of the progressive income tax system. In Ontario the Ontario Health Premium (OHP) ranges from $0 if your taxable income is $20,000 or less, and goes up to $900 per year if your taxable income is more than $200,600. Instead of the mail-out system we have in BC, the OHP is deducted from the pay and pensions of those with employment or pension income that meets the minimum threshold.

“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. This unfair head tax on low income and middle class British Columbians needs to end.”

British Columbians living in both of the ridings currently facing by-elections are facing significant affordability issues. Affordable living is a high priority for B.C. Green Party candidates. Pete Fry is the BC Green Party candidate in Vancouver–Mount Pleasant and Joe Keithley is the BC Green Party Candidate in Coquitlam–Burke Mountain.

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Media contact
Mat Wright, Press Secretary
Office of Andrew Weaver
1.250.216.3382 | mat.wright@greenparty.bc.ca

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