The new year is almost upon us, and with it, a hike in the MSP rates many British Columbians will pay.
The increase affects childless couples earning more than $45,000 and senior couples earning more than $51,000 – about half a million people.
The change, announced in the February budget, will see couples now pay the same rate as two singles, a jump of $14 per month, and is separate from the province’s September announcement it is scrapping its annual 4% MSP increase next year.
British Columbians with children, singles earning under $42,000, and couples pulling in less than $45,000 will see cuts next year.
That has NDP leader John Horgan accusing the government of slight of hand, promising cuts while delivering increases to many.
That includes Sandy and Gord Carmichael, who say they were surprised to get a letter in the mail advising them of the coming increase.
“For somebody like me – I am 74, I am still working – everything is going up,” said Sandy.
She says she still works part time, and that she and her 88-year-old husband fall just shy of the cutoff for premium assistance.
“I had understood there would be no raises in MSP, that they were going to hold the premium fee, and actually I was quite angry,” she said.
With an election in the wings, the NDP’s Horgan says the move is a reminder to voters that all the government says glitters is not in fact gold.
“When we get inundated with feel-good Christy Clark’s ‘doing right by your ads’ – that you’re paying for – remember Gord and remember Sandy and 530,000 more who are going to be paying more,” he said.
But while Horgan is throwing stones at how the government is handling MSP, he says he will not be revealing how he would handle it until the budget in February.
With files from Liza Yuzda