COLUMNS: MSP fees cut, but hold onto your wallet

A weekly column by MLA Donna Barnett

The NDP government rang in the New Year by following through on a number of tax cuts that were previously announced by Liberals in the provincial budget prior to the last election.

The 50 per cent reduction of the Medical Services Plan (MSP) fee was intended to give money back to taxpayers because the budget was balanced and generating a surplus.

The reduction will save individuals up to $450 a year, and families up to $900.

It represented almost a $1 billion tax cut, with the goal to eventually eliminate MSP altogether.

But the election last May changed all that.

The NDP now says it wants to “replace” that revenue by bringing in a new tax.

So they have established yet another panel of experts to examine how to come up with a new scheme by March 31st of this year.

Finance Minister Carole James wants something more “progressive,” which is a code word for new MSP fees based on taxable income.

Andrew Weaver with the Green Party favours a “health care premium” similar to the OHIP fees charged in Ontario.

This system essentially sweeps MSP fees under the rug because it is calculated when you file your tax return.

The NDP and the Greens think people won’t notice if they simply roll monthly MSP fees into the tax system.

I don’t see how this is “progressive” or making life more affordable by essentially taxing back the MSP tax cut.

Don’t get me wrong, we need quality and accessible health care.

As a matter of fact, I have written twice to the new Health Minister about progress on the business plan for the new Williams Lake hospital.

Unfortunately I haven’t heard back from the minister at all.

I will be sure to keep you updated.

In the meantime, feel free to contact my office any time. I also continue to work daily on issues for people affected by the wildfires.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.