British Columbia

MSP hikes will hit over 500,000 B.C. families in the new year

NDP leader John Horgan says the 10 per cent increase is one of the largest MSP hikes in the province's history — and it unfairly falls on an 'already struggling' middle class.

NDP leader John Horgan says the 10 per cent increase hurts an 'already struggling' middle class

NDP leader John Horgan, and seniors Sandra and Gordon Carmichael at a press conference on Wednesday, December 14 2016. (CBC)

Over 500,000 B.C. families will be hit with MSP increase in the new year, says NDP leader John Horgan.

Starting Jan. 1, couples with an annual household income over $45,000 will see their annual health premiums rise by an additional $168 per year — or an extra $14 per month — as MSP changes implemented by the B.C. Liberals take effect.

Horgan charges the provincial government has been disingenuous about changes to MSP premiums announced earlier this year,

"In the budget, it's announced that 530,000 couples will be paying more... so that the Liberals can claim to be making life better for some British Columbians," said Horgan on Wednesday.

According to the provincial government, the new rates were introduced to reduce costs on low-income families.

Starting in 2017, single parents with two children will save at least $900 annually, according to the statement from the Ministry of Finance.

Single parents with an income below $40,000 could save as much as $1,248 under the new rates, the ministry said.

'Everything is going up'

But many others will be hit with fee hikes to pay for the changes, says Horgan, including senior couples who earn over $51,000.

Sandra Carmichael, 74, says she was shocked and angry when she found out that she and her 88-year-old husband would be paying extra for health care in the new year.

"Everything is going up — this has gone up, my ICBC is going up, my hydro is going up," she said. "I would like to be able to retire and know I will be okay."

Sandy Carmichael is not happy with the increased MSP premiums that she and her husband will pay starting Jan. 1. (CBC)

According to Carmichael — who works as a receptionist at the Royal Canadian Legion — the couple's income just barely puts them in the highest MSP bracket, and they don't qualify for a discount.

Horgan says the NDP will be running on a platform to get rid of MSP because its "unfair," but he would not provide specific details on the plan.

The adjusted MSP rates vary from an additional $168 for some couples, to a savings of $1,248 for single parents with two children. (Ministry of Finance)

With files from Richard Zussman and BC Almanac