The centrepiece of the provincial budget announced last week is a tax cut.
But not any tax cut.
This is a cut to Medical Services Plan premiums, slicing them in half for most people, starting next year.
Heading into an election in just a few months, the B.C. Liberals obviously want to take credit for slashing the unpopular fee levied to pay for a portion of our province’s health care costs.
There’s just one problem with that – they’re slicing away increases they put into place.
In fact, it was just a year ago that most middle-class folks saw a 14 per cent increase in MSP premiums in the last budget.
And there was a four per cent hike in 2015, a four per cent hike in 2013, a four per cent increase in 2012, an increase in 2010 …
Premier Christy Clark and Finance Minister Michael de Jong aren’t rolling back just any tax, they’re rolling back a tax that is specifically a Liberal construct, one they have increased time and again.
The MSP is one of the most regressive taxes in the province.
You begin paying it if you earn more than $24,000 a year, which is barely more than a full-time minimum wage job.
Millionaires barely pay more than folks scraping by – and the impact of a four per cent hike on an average worker is obviously much larger.
Cutting the MSP will be welcome, but the fact that the Liberals are able to cut it just emphasizes how well things are going in B.C.
Right now, the economy is booming, government coffers are full – and the Liberals can afford to cut back the tax that penalizes the poor and middle class the most.
Of course, if they really wanted to help, they’d simply fold it into income tax – a more progressive option than a fee on minimum wage workers.