NDP finance critic Carole James responds to Tuesday's B.C. budget.

Opposition raps ‘fantasy fund,’ MSP fees

Premier Christy Clark's promised LNG prosperity fund financed by rising medical fees, says NDP's Carole James

The B.C. Liberal government’s new “prosperity fund” is effectively financed by Medical Services Plan fees, not the natural gas windfall promised by Premier Christy Clark three years ago, say opposition MLAs.

In her response to the B.C. budget Tuesday, NDP finance critic Carole James said relief from MSP fees for lower-income families doesn’t take effect until January 2017, along with another four per cent overall rate increase. A new $100 million “fantasy fund” is raised through MSP revenue and other fee increases rising this year, James said.

Changes introduced by Finance Minister Mike de Jong will exempt children from MSP rate calculations, and raise the qualifying income for the full rate from $30,000 to $42,000 for single people. That single adult rate rises to $78 a month starting next January, the latest of a series of increases for Canada’s only dedicated medical service fees.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said the MSP changes are a “halfway step” in the right direction.

“We see individuals and families earning modest incomes continuing the pay the same rates as those who are earning six-digit salaries, and assistance remains contingent on an opt-in system,” Weaver said.

James said contrary to de Jong’s description of a nation-leading provincial economy, B.C.’s private sector job growth is sixth among provinces and average consumer debt is $10,000 higher than the national average.

“We see people leaning on payday loans and credit cards to try to pay their bills,” James said.

 

Just Posted

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Most Read