The B.C. government announced dramatic changes to its much-criticized Medical Services Plan on Tuesday, with an emphasis on helping low-income families and single parents, but placed an increased burden on some who make only a modest income.

The government will eliminate MSP premiums for children, and greatly reduce premiums for many single parents, and people earning less than $42,000.

B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong called the changes, which will take effect Jan. 2017, "a significant shift."

"For 70,000 single parent families, that will at a minimum translate into an $800-plus savings per year," de Jong said.

Many will save more, de Jong noted, for example, single parents with two children who earn between $36,000 and $44,000 will pay roughly $1,100 less than they do this year.

But others — such as many seniors and couples with no children — will be paying much more in MSP premiums to ensure the government doesn't collect less money overall.

Those who will pay more for MSP (annually)

  • Couples earning over $45,000 pay additional $240 annually.
  • Senior couples earning over $51,000 pay additional $240.
  • Single adults earning over $42,000 pay additional $36.
  • Couples earning over $51,000, with two children, pay additional $72.

Essentially, the government refused calls to put an increased burden on high-income earners, or roll MSP into income tax increases, opting instead to spread the increase evenly from middle — and arguably lower-middle — income earners to high earners.

But de Jong says the new structure will be "fairer" than the existing system, in which those earning more than $30,000 all pay the same MSP premiums.

The government forecasts it will collect an additional $124 million in MSP premiums next year, though it cautions part of that is due to population growth.