B.C. petition calls for an end to MSP premiums
Green Party petition contains more than 62,000 signatures
The B.C. Green Party has presented an online petition in the B.C. Legislature, signed by more than 62,000 people from across the province, calling for an end to MSP Premiums.
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says it's clear British Columbians want the tax changed. Under the current system, everyone making more than $30,000 a year pays the same amount — about $75 a month. Those making less than $30,000 are exempt.
Weaver says B.C. should think about adopting the Ontario model where the amount paid is tied to taxable income with payments starting at $20,000 a year and increasing gradually before topping out at about $200,000.
"Any collections, any credit agency, all of that is thrown away because as a matter of law everyone must file tax returns," he said.
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Ucluelet resident Michelle Coulter, who started the petition, says she has been surprised by the reaction.
"It seems a little surreal," said Coulter. "We are obviously striking a chord with British Columbians. I sure hope the province is listening because we need to make changes for everyday British Columbians that need to work everyday to put food on the table."
'Health care is not free': province
But the province is not willing at this point to make drastic MSP Premium changes. Finance Minister Mike de Jong insists that "health care is not free." He says if the premium is attached to income, taxpayers won't have the understanding their money is going to health care.
"The most frequent criticism I get when I am out and about in B.C. is I really wish I knew specifically what my money will purchase," de Jong said.
The government does have plans to introduce some changes to the premiums. In next week's provincial budget details of a break for single parent families will be released.
Right now, one-parent families with two children pay about $150 a month in premiums. The province is planning on changing that so they only pay about $75 a month.