Medical fees top B.C. budget list

Finance Minister Mike de Jong looking at making MSP premiums reflect income, but he has no intention of eliminating premiums

Finance Minister Mike de Jong

Finance Minister Mike de Jong is set to perform surgery on Medical Services Plan fees in the Feb. 16 budget, but he insists B.C. will continue to be the only province to charge people directly for medical care.

“There are some people who advocate eliminating MSP entirely as a separate fee, and hiding it or camouflaging that fee within the general taxation structure,” de Jong said. “I disagree with that. I think you create the illusion that people aren’t paying a fee.”

Premier Christy Clark has indicated that there will be relief for single parent families with income over $30,000 a year, cutting the family rate to $75 a month to effectively remove MSP fees for the children.

De Jong said it’s possible to change the current rate structure, which exempts single people and families making less than $22,000 and rises in steps to $150 a month for a family of three or more making more than $30,000. The government has taken criticism for charging the same rate for wealthy people as those with low incomes.

The finance ministry disputed a report from the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation that claimed more than 850,000 MSP accounts are at least 31 days past due. Ministry staff say there are 387,381 MSP “pay direct accounts” in arrears.

The amount of the the arrears is estimated to be $457 million, and de Jong said that is why the government takes collection action for those who owe fees. About half of B.C. residents have MSP paid by their employers, with the rest expected to register, show their income and pay what is owing.

“I also recognize that some families encounter difficulties,” de Jong said. “Almost one million British Columbians don’t pay MSP. Sometimes there’s a lag before they’re registered, so that accounts for some of the arrears.”

 

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Elections 2018: Meet your Grand Forks Council Candidates

The biographies of the 13 candidates for City of Grand Forks council

PLACE NAMES: Kootenay Landing to Reffek

Boundary railway siding was named after a BC Copper Company manager – but spelled backward

Meeting called on border change

Local residents who feel the impact of the change in border are encouraged to attend this meeting.

Families participate in breastfeeding challenge

The 16th annual Grand Forks Breastfeeding Challenge was held Saturday, Sept. 29.

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Most Read