“It’s antiquated, it’s old, and the way people pay for it generally doesn’t make a whole ton of sense.”
Those were the words of Premier Christy Clark today, the clearest indication yet by the provincial government that changes to B.C.’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) are coming.
In most provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, medical premiums are paid as part of one’s income tax, and the amount rises along with a person’s income.
But in British Columbia, they’re paid separately – and anyone making over $30,000 a year pays the same rate.
READ MORE: MSP Premiums have more than doubled since the Liberals took power
This week, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation claimed that over $462 million in payments were overdue by B.C. citizens. Today, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver presented a 65,000-person petition to the legislature, calling for an end of premiums.
“Instead of being a flat rate head tax, [let’s] bring it into our income tax system,” said Weaver.
“The way we have proposed it…is follow the Ontario model, and bring it into to our tax system as a line-item, and that rate will be progressive.”
BALDREY: Why it’s time to tie MSP premium rates to income levels
Already the government has announced single mothers will no longer have to pay an additional fee for their children’s premiums. More changes are also expected in next week’s budget, to be delivered February 16, but Clark said full-scale reform was not likely – at least not this year.
“You’ll see a few more incremental changes,” said Clark.
“I think in terms of wholesale change, it’s going to take a little longer for us to work through some of that, but you will see some things in this budget.”