Education Minister Rob Fleming takes questions in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 27, 2018. (Hansard TV)

School districts adding up cost of new health tax

Education Minister Rob Fleming ducks double tax questions

B.C.’s 60 school districts are updating their budgets for next year, when they will have to pay employee Medical Services Plan premiums and a new health tax on payrolls coming in to replace it.

In the legislature Tuesday, opposition critics jumped on reports from districts that the 2019 costs of double taxation are going to result in extra millions in costs before MSP is phased out in 2020.

Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap said his local school district has to cover more than $2 million next year, and pressed Education Minister Rob Fleming on whether there would be any relief for them.

“The new employer tax that the government is downloading on school boards was not anticipated,” Yap said. “Richmond school board is facing $2.2 million in cuts to the classroom. Again to the minister, is there money in the budget for school boards to pay the new employer tax?”

Fleming emphasized the savings school districts get from the 50-per-cent reduction in MSP premiums that took effect on Jan. 1. He then recited a list of new education investments, from seismic upgrades to the 3,700 teachers hired to meet the terms of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year.

At one point, Speaker Darryl Plecas was moved to remind Fleming that “shorter answers are good” in question period.

RELATED: NDP getting push-back on health care tax

B.C. Liberal education critic Dan Davies said the cost for Vancouver would be more than $7 million next year.

Finance Minister Carole James has indicated that the impact of the payroll tax on municipalities and school districts is still up for discussion before it takes effect next year.

The tax is on all employers, including non-profits and local governments, with payroll costs in excess of $500,000. The highest rate is 1.95 per cent of the payroll, for businesses and organizations with a payroll of $1.5 million or higher.

Just Posted

Penticton Art Gallery auction ranges from the iconic to the obscure

The Penticton Art Gallery is holding it’s largest fundraiser of the year June 28.

Severe thunderstorm watch issued for the Okanagan

Possible rainfall rates of up to 25 milimetres in one hour.

Firefighters flipping for funds

The annual Penticton firefighters pancake breakfast Saturday and Sunday

Dragon boat sprinters make a splash

Annual dragon boat sprint races on Skaha Lake

Pinns U15 boys off to provincials

After a slow start to the season Pinns U15 boys rebound in a big way

VIDEO: Vernon-area students read for rank

RCMP visited JW Inglis on Wednesday as part of the Read with Me and the RCMP program.

FIFA World Cup weekly roundup

Host nation Russia remains unbeaten in Group A, tied with Uruguay

Star Gazing: Using a large telescope

Ken Tapping, astronomer with the National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory

Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

New tariffs on Canadian autos entering the U.S. would amount to a self-inflicted wound on the U.S. economy

B.C. inmate gets 2 years in prison for assault on guard

Union rep said inmate sucker punched correctional officer, continued assault after officer fell

Temperature records broken across B.C., again

The first heat wave of the season went out with a bang across the province

Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa

The introduction of the Accessible Canada Act marked a key step towards greater inclusion

Police chief calls for mass casualty plan in Saskatchewan after Broncos crash

Former Saskatoon police chief Clive Weighill said the office was tasked with creating such a plan 13 years ago but none exists

Most Read