Will the B.C. NDP raise income taxes to pay for its pledge to scrap MSP premiums? It’s not out of the question.
Asked at a campaign event Friday about how he’d fund the plan, NDP Leader John Horgan wouldn’t rule the tax hike out, saying he’d put it to an independent panel.
“Of employers, employees, and other stakeholders, to make sure we have a plan that eliminates the medical services premiums by the end of our first term in office. And the only priorities I’m putting in place is ensuring that low and middle-income people are protected and that our health services are not compromised in any way.”
Horgan says the NDP will keep the Liberals’ 50 per cent MSP reduction for January, then phase it out entirely within four years.
That has the B.C. Liberals firing with both chambers, accusing the NDP of trying to hide a tax increase, and of policymaking on the fly.
Vancouver-Quilchenna Candidate Andrew Wilkenson:
“First they said it’s going to be rolled into income tax, which meant about a $1,000 tax bill for the average B.C. family, then they changed their minds when John Horgan overruled his finance critic and said that they would not be doing that. And now they’ve come out and said they can’t make up their minds and they’re going create a panel to figure out how British Columbia’s going to pay for this.”
The NDP’s platform, released last week, reflects Horgan’s Friday comments that the party would turn to a non-partisan panel, but NDP candidate Carole James muddied the water this week when she suggested to reporters the plan would be to look at a progressive tax system along the lines of other provinces’ models.
Wilkenson says MSP brings in $1.7-billion in revenue, and the NDP has not been clear on how that will be replaced.
The Liberals say they too will kill MSP premiums, but won’t commit to doing it in the next term.
As for why his government sent mailouts to British Columbians promising to eliminate MSP premiums a month before the election if there were no plans to do it in the coming term?
“It’s only fair for us to tell people that their premiums would be reduced by 50 per cent or more in 2018, and that we’re planning to get rid of them all together.”
The B.C. Green party says it would fold MSP into the income tax system.