Over the course of the last few months I have been working to raise awareness about the regressive approach British Columbia is taking to fund health care via flat-rate MSP premiums. I’ve been pressuring both the government and the official opposition to support a more progressive approach like that in place in Ontario.
I’ve written about this earlier and tabled a petition in the legislature of 6,662 British Columbians who agreed. Furthermore, during question period, I asked the Minister of Finance if the government would empower the Select Standing Committee on Health to examine innovative, progressive ways of revising how MSP premiums are charged. The Minister responded that he believed the mandate of the committee was sufficiently broad for “members of the committee, and those that they might invite in, to have the kind of conversation that the member is alluding to”.
Following up on the Minister’s response, I formally wrote to the Chair of the Select Standing Committee on April 17 asking two specific questions regarding the possibility of initiating a conversation with respect to the funding of MSP in British Columbia.
The response was, to say the least, most disappointing. The Chair of the committee stated that “they consider only those matters that are referred to them by the Legislative Assembly”. Given the Minister’s response to my question during question period, this statement is most perplexing.
What’s even more troubling is that further in the letter, the Chair of the committee states:
“The Committee is currently working to identify potential strategies to ensure the sustainability and improvement of our health care system while ensuring its financial sustainability.”
Moving MSP premium funding from a regressive to a progressive system of funding is precisely one of the key ways we can ensure the financial sustainability of our healthcare system. I am astonished that the Committee has apparently not recognized this.
For those interested, the Select Standing Committee on Health has the following members:
Linda Larson Liberal, Boundary-Similkameen (Chair)
Judy Darcy NDP, New Westminster, (Deputy Chair)
Donna Barnett Liberal, Cariboo-Chilcotin
Dr. Doug Bing Liberal, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
Sue Hammell NDP, Surrey-Green Timbers
Richard T. Lee Liberal, Burnaby North
Dr. Darryl Plecas Liberal, Abbotsford South
Jennifer Rice NDP, North Coast
Bill Routley NDP, Cowichan Valley
Dr. Moira Stilwell Liberal, Vancouver-Langara