Are B.C.’s MSP premiums unfair?
At least 65,000 British Columbians think so, according to a petition calling for them to be scrapped sent to Victoria today.
It’s a call B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has been leveling for some time now, and today he joined Lynda Steele to explain why.
LISTEN: Lynda Steele talks with Andrew Weaver about abolishing MSP premiums
Weaver says the way we collect health premiums now is essentially a head tax, with the premium being the same whether someone earns $3 million or $30,001.
B.C. is the only province to do this, and Weaver says it’s unfair to people on a fixed income or struggling to make ends meet in an expensive market.
So what does he think we should do?
“We don’t have to look far. We can look at any province in the country to see how it’s done differently. My favourite example … is the Ontario model. We know that each and every one of us has to file an income tax return every year, there would be an aditional line item.”
Under such a system, health care premiums would be assessed at tax time, and scaled according to how much a person earns.
But Weaver says it wouldn’t just save money for individuals.
He says currently there are hundreds of thousands of letters in the mail to people who are late making payments, and a massive system of red tape designed to pursue them.
“We’ve got collections agencies coming after people because the contract that’s being used to actually collect the fees allows this to happen.”
“We’re going to see typical changes that this government likes. They like to offer boutique tax credits – they’re going to offer boutique tax exemptions… That’s like – to use a phrase bluntly – putting lipstick on a pig. The system is fundamentally broken and putting bandaids on it is not addressing the fundamental issue.””
Weaver warns the government risks ignoring the issue at its peril, which he predicts will be a hot topic come election time next year.