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

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.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

A Prince Rupert port expansion project received a $25 million investment from the provincial government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Jan. 14. Seen here is Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal export terminal in Prince Rupert (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
$25 million government investment in Prince Rupert port expansion project

Prince Rupert port expansion project expected to create more than 2,200 jobs

For the second time in less than a year, Air Canada announced on Jan. 13 it has suspended flights on the Prince Rupert-Vancouver route as of Jan 17. (Photo by: Jerold Leblanc)
Cessation of flights to YPR will affect the municipal economy and global trade, P.R. Mayor said

Chamber of Commerce said it will aggressively pursue the resumption of flights to Prince Rupert

Air Canada has suspended flights to Prince Rupert Regional Airport due to COVID-19 mitigation, the airline announced on Jan. 13. (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
YPR is not immune to plummeted air travel demands – 25 jobs lost

Prince Rupert Regional Airport flight cancellation will levee significant hardship - Rick Leach

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read