Today in the legislature I presented a petition by 65,721 British Columbians, started by Michelle Coulter in Ucluelet. The petition calls on government to abolish BC’s regressive approach to collecting MSP premiums and switch instead to a progressive system. As the petition states, “BC should follow the lead of other provinces in eliminating its flat-rate MSP premiums.”
Earlier this year I renewed my call to eliminate MSP premiums and pointed out that we don’t have to look far for alternatives. British Columbia should follow the path taken by Ontario in 2004 when they introduced the Ontario Health Premium (OHP), and rolled it into their income tax system.
In Ontario if you earn $20,000 or more a year you pay the OHP. It ranges from $0 if your taxable income is $20,000 or less, and goes up to $900 per year if your taxable income is more than $200,600. Instead of the mail-out system we have in BC, the OHP is deducted from the pay and pensions of those with employment or pension income that meets the minimum threshold. The full range of premium rates in Ontario for those at different incomes can be viewed here.
Remember – only Ontario’s top earners are paying $900 per year. Right now people in British Columbia are paying $900 a year regardless of whether they earn $30,000 or $3,000,000 a year.
Below are the text and video of my introduction of the petition. I also append a copy of the media release associated with it.
It gives me great pleasure to present a petition with 65,721 signatures from people across British Columbia calling on the government to abolish B.C.’s regressive approach to collecting MSP premiums. As the petition states, B.C. should follow the lead of other provinces in eliminating flat-rate MSP premiums
Media Release: February 11, 2016
Andrew Weaver presents MSP petition with 65,721 names
For Immediate Release
Victoria, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, tabled a 65,721 signature petition in the legislature today calling on the government to eliminate B.C.’s regressive ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to collecting MSP premiums.
“It is clear that too many British Columbians are struggling with the fixed and increasing cost of MSP Premiums in this province. It is a regressive fee that is hurting those who can least afford it,” said Weaver.
The petition, created by small business owner Michelle Coulter from Ucluelet, B.C., was started in December and has received widespread support from across the province.
“Right now whether you make $30,000 or $3,000,000 annually in you are paying $900 a year,” said Weaver. “In Ontario, only the top earners making more than $200,600 are paying this rate.”
The B.C. Green Party has proposed the introduction of a progressive system in which rates are determined by one’s earnings, mirroring the model used in Ontario. Rolling MSP premiums into the existing income tax system would allow the fee to be graduated and lead to a significant net administrative savings to taxpayers.
“The B.C. Government takes almost as much revenue from MSP Premiums as it does from corporate income tax,” said Weaver. “It’s time we followed the path Ontario has taken and rolled the MSP Premiums into our income tax system.”
In 2004 the Ontario government introduced the Ontario Health Premium (OHP), and incorporated it into their income tax system. In Ontario if you earn $20,000 or more a year you pay the OHP. It ranges from $0 if your taxable income is $20,000 or less, and goes up to a maximum of $900 per year if your taxable income is more than $200,600. Instead of the mail-out system we have in B.C., the OHP is deducted from the pay and pensions of those with employment or pension income that meets the minimum threshold.
“The government’s recently announced change for single parent families is a step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough to help numerous British Columbians who cannot afford the increases,” said Weaver. “If the government is serious about easing the burden it is placing on low and fixed income British Columbians, then they need to properly fix the way MSP premiums are collected.”
Press Secretary – Andrew Weaver MLA
Cell: 250 216 3382