Opposition raps ‘fantasy fund,’ MSP fees

Premier Christy Clark's promised LNG prosperity fund financed by rising medical fees, says NDP's Carole James

NDP finance critic Carole James responds to Tuesday's B.C. budget.

The B.C. Liberal government’s new “prosperity fund” is effectively financed by Medical Services Plan fees, not the natural gas windfall promised by Premier Christy Clark three years ago, say opposition MLAs.

In her response to the B.C. budget Tuesday, NDP finance critic Carole James said relief from MSP fees for lower-income families doesn’t take effect until January 2017, along with another four per cent overall rate increase. A new $100 million “fantasy fund” is raised through MSP revenue and other fee increases rising this year, James said.

Changes introduced by Finance Minister Mike de Jong will exempt children from MSP rate calculations, and raise the qualifying income for the full rate from $30,000 to $42,000 for single people. That single adult rate rises to $78 a month starting next January, the latest of a series of increases for Canada’s only dedicated medical service fees.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the MSP changes are a “halfway step” in the right direction.

“We see individuals and families earning modest incomes continuing the pay the same rates as those who are earning six-digit salaries, and assistance remains contingent on an opt-in system,” Weaver said.

James said contrary to de Jong’s description of a nation-leading provincial economy, B.C.’s private sector job growth is sixth among provinces and average consumer debt is $10,000 higher than the national average.

“We see people leaning on payday loans and credit cards to try to pay their bills,” James said.

 

Just Posted

Scammer targeting elderly in Kelowna with broken-down vehicle story

A door to door scammer is in Kelowna, targeting seniors according to Kelowna RCMP

Accident north of Vernon causing minor delays

SUV and semi truck involved in crash at Highway 97 and Stickle Road

Ontario driver rolls car near Vernon

Crash in Coldstream follows reports of erratic driving

City of Vernon supports variances with minimal opposition

Four housing variance permits will bring more than 90 new residences to Vernon

Armstrong seeks public input on cannabis retail shops

Online survey and mail-out to be conducted; public hearing/open house to be held for input

Weekend weather update: Crisp and sunny

This weekend will see lots of sunshine and below season temperatures for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Kal Rotary fundraiser leads to wheelchair van purchase

The $39,000 awarded by Kalamalka Rotary was instrumental in securing the $56,000 needed.

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

$224.5 million announced for Highway 1 bridge replacement in Sicamous

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says bridge option will be announced next month

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Okanagan volunteers reflect on building classrooms in Nepal

Through the charity Her International, the volunteer group built four classrooms

Ontario driver rolls car in Okanagan

Crash near Vernon follows reports of erratic driving

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Most Read