February 19, 2014 7:06 pm
Updated: August 6, 2016 1:36 am

MSP Premiums will have doubled since Liberals took power


By the time MSP Premiums go up next year, the rates under the Liberal government will have officially doubled since they took power nearly 13 years ago.

Finance Minister Mike De Jong promised a four per cent hike for 2015 premiums in yesterday’s budget. That would raise monthly rates for an individual to approximately $72, a family of two to $130.50, and a family of three or more to $144.

When the Liberals were first elected under former premier Gordon Campbell in 2001, rates were $36/month for an individual.

MSP premiums have doubled over 15 years »

MSP premiums have doubled over 15 years

After a 50 per cent increase in their first year in power, the Liberals froze rates for six years. But since then, annual increases of around four per cent have steadily brought the rates upward.

Changes to MSP premiums under the Liberals »

Changes to MSP premiums under the Liberals

Story continues below

Premier Christy Clark defended the rates to Global News this afternoon, pointing out that close to 800,000 British Columbians don’t pay MSP because of exceptions for people with incomes under $22,000. There are also partial exemptions for those earning under $30,000.

“We’re putting 2.5 billion in new money into the health care system this year. We’re trying to find that balance between funding our health care system, make sure the services are there people need, and relieve the pressure for families that are struggling on the bottom end,” she said.

The Ministry of Finance also said in a statement that “MSP premiums are one of the important ways that we pay for these increases and keep our publicly funded system sustainable.”

Seth Klein, the B.C. director at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the premiums, which are unique in Canada to British Columbia, are “the most regressive tax out there”.

“The person making $500,000 won’t notice it, but the person making $50,000 certainly will,” he said.

Klein also criticized the government for having a tax system in which they were scheduled to receive almost as much in MSP premiums ($2.27 billion) this fiscal year as they are in corporate income taxes ($2.35 billion).

“By what logic is it perfectly fine to raise MSP by four per cent each year, and yet income taxes are untouchable?,” he asked.

Québec and Ontario also have health care premiums – but both are based on income. In Québec, the maximum contribution is $1,000 for anyone making over $150,000. In Ontario, the maximum amount is $900 for anyone making over $206,000.

While MSP revenues have increased from $947 million in 2002 to an estimated $2.27 billion this year, overall spending in Health Ministries has risen much further – from $9.77 billion to $16.93 billion.

MSP Revenues and Health Ministry Expenses, 2001-2014 »

MSP Revenues and Health Ministry Expenses, 2001-2014

© 2014 Shaw Media

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.