Medical fees top B.C. budget list

Finance Minister Mike de Jong looking at making MSP premiums reflect income, but he has no intention of eliminating premiums

Finance Minister Mike de Jong

Finance Minister Mike de Jong is set to perform surgery on Medical Services Plan fees in the Feb. 16 budget, but he insists B.C. will continue to be the only province to charge people directly for medical care.

“There are some people who advocate eliminating MSP entirely as a separate fee, and hiding it or camouflaging that fee within the general taxation structure,” de Jong said. “I disagree with that. I think you create the illusion that people aren’t paying a fee.”

Premier Christy Clark has indicated that there will be relief for single parent families with income over $30,000 a year, cutting the family rate to $75 a month to effectively remove MSP fees for the children.

De Jong said it’s possible to change the current rate structure, which exempts single people and families making less than $22,000 and rises in steps to $150 a month for a family of three or more making more than $30,000. The government has taken criticism for charging the same rate for wealthy people as those with low incomes.

The finance ministry disputed a report from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation that claimed more than 850,000 MSP accounts are at least 31 days past due. Ministry staff say there are 387,381 MSP “pay direct accounts” in arrears.

The amount of the the arrears is estimated to be $457 million, and de Jong said that is why the government takes collection action for those who owe fees. About half of B.C. residents have MSP paid by their employers, with the rest expected to register, show their income and pay what is owing.

“I also recognize that some families encounter difficulties,” de Jong said. “Almost one million British Columbians don’t pay MSP. Sometimes there’s a lag before they’re registered, so that accounts for some of the arrears.”

 

Just Posted

Penticton cyclist injured in hit-and-run in critical condition

Jesse Birkedal was injured in a hit-and-run while cycling on Eastside Road

Vehicle smashes sign and cars in Summerland school parking lot

Driver of a Ford Expedition lost control, crashing into two other vehicles

Top classic car show cruises back into Penticton

Peach City Beach Cruise runs June 21 to 23 in Penticton

Update: Penticton fire in mop up mode at Greenwood Forest Products

An employee said as he was coming in for his shift at around 4:39 a.m. he heard a loud explosion

Permits for sale at former Penticton Greyhound depot turned into parking lot

Permits for parking spots in the newly created parking lot at 307 Ellis St. now are on sale

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Man arrested during Kelowna police stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read