Task Force struck to plan for the end of MSP premiums

John Kurucz - Vancouver Courier

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Photo BC Government

The provincial government is turning its attention to life after Medical Services Plan premiums.

A task force established Thursday has until March 2018 to figure out how to replace the revenue lost from the government’s plan to eliminate MSP premiums within four years.

University of Victoria professor Lindsay Tedds will chair the task force. An associated professor with the university’s school of public administration, her fields of expertise lie in applied economic research and policy analysis, and the design and implementation of tax policy.

Tedds is joined by former Prince George MLA Paul Ramsey and David Duff, a professor of law at the University of British Columbia.

The NDP has advised the task force of two critical non-starters that can’t come back in the final report: increases to the provincial sales tax or retaining MSP premiums.

B.C. is the lone province in Canada to charge monthly health premiums.

“People know that MSP premiums are unfair and place significant burden on British Columbian families. Today, we are initiating a process that will eliminate these regressive fees,” Finance Minister Carole James said in a news release. “By engaging a panel of respected experts in economics, law and public policy, we will ensure the path we take is fiscally responsible, fair and evidence-based.”

The NDP’s budget update in September included plans to scale back MSP premiums by 50 per cent effective Jan. 1, 2018. That reduction works out to $450 in tax cuts for an individual, or $900 for couples.

The consultation is online at engage.gov.bc.ca/msptaskforce.

jkurucz@vancourier.com

@JohnKurucz

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