The provincial government has launched a campaign to make seniors more aware they are eligible for MSP assistance.

The campaign — launched at a Victoria seniors' centre by Health Minister Terry Lake — comes on the heels of a report that only 39 per cent of B.C.'s seniors are aware there is help available to pay their Medical Services Plan premiums.

Following Tuesday's provincial budget, the threshold for a single senior to qualify for assistance was increased to $45,000 per year and $51,000 for a senior couple.

B.C. MSP: poor families pay less, middle income earners pay more

But NDP critic Carole James says small changes aren't sufficient.

"Why doesn't the government just fix it? Get rid of MSP, admit that they should do it right now ... Now [seniors] have to deal with more bureaucracy, more red tape, more applications."

In Tuesday's budget, the government announced several changes to MSP, including eliminating premiums for children and greatly reducing premiums for many single parents and people earning less than $42,000.

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.

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.
   

With files from Richard Zussman