NDP launches task force to guide elimination of MSP premiums

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B.C.’s NDP government has launched a task force to guide the province to the elimination of Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums within four years.

The three member panel has been given until March 31, 2018 to draft a report identifying options to replace revenue lost by eliminating the premiums.

READ MORE: Why it’s time to tie MSP premium rates to income levels

The government says whatever options the panel provides must result in a more progressive taxation system, and that retaining the premiums or boosting the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) are off limits.

As of 2018, MSP premiums will generate an estimated 1.25 billion per year for the province.

The task force will be charged with consulting with businesses, academics and other stakeholders — and will take public feedback through a new government website.

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It will be led by University of Victoria associate professor Lindsay Tedds, a tax policy expert in the university’s school of pubic administration.

University of British Columbia law professor David Duff and academic and former NDP MLA Paul Ramsay will round out the panel.

WATCH: BC Budget: Liberals cut MSP premiums

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BC Budget: Liberals cut MSP premiums – Feb 22, 2017

Currently, most adult B.C. residents pay a $75 monthly premium for healthcare services.

The former B.C. Liberal government announced in its pre-election budget that it would cut MSP premiums in half — slashing payments by about $450 year for the average British Columbian.

The NDP pledged during the 2017 election campaign to phase the premiums out completely within four years, and to strike a non-partisan panel to guide the province to the goal.

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It said in its September mini-budget that it would go ahead with the 50 per cent cut while looking at how to eliminate the program.

B.C. is the only province in Canada to charge a monthly healthcare premium; most other jurisdictions use the income tax system to collect healthcare dollars.

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