Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre stage at campaign stops Saturday by the leaders of British Columbia’s New Democratic and Liberal parties.

NDP Leader John Horgan promised to build a long-awaited new hospital in northwest British Columbia if re-elected, while suggesting the Liberals were considering tax cuts for the wealthy and reinstating medical services plan premiums to cover costs.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson vowed not to bring back medical services plan premiums, while accusing Horgan of plunging the province into an unnecessary election during a pandemic.

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week, saying he needs the stability of a majority government. B.C.’s fixed election date was set for October 2021.

“It’s hard to find anybody to say it’s time to go to the polls,” Wilkinson said at a Vancouver campaign event. “It’s just irresponsible. It’s just plain wrong.”

Horgan said the people of British Columbia need a government that improves health care across the province and strives to make life more affordable.

He stood at the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, promising to spend $441 million to expand and replace the aging, decades-old facility by 2024, if re-elected.

“We heard the stories of years and years of promises from the B.C. Liberals to take action to replace this decrepit building,” Horgan said at a news conference.

“There’s been a lot of industrial activity in this region over the decades and having state-of-the-art, acute-care facilities are absolutely central to the people in the region.”

Horgan said the Liberals could be considering bringing back MSP premiums, which were eliminated by the NDP in January 2020.

“The Liberals want to go back to the days when they would take money out of your pocket to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthy and the well connected,” he said.

Horgan said the NDP’s elimination of the premiums was the largest middle class tax cut in B.C. history, amounting to annual savings of about $1,800 for an average family.

Wilkinson flatly rejected Horgan’s suggestion that the Liberals are considering bringing back medical services plan premiums.

“It seems that John Horgan is intent on destroying his credibility every single day,” said Wilkinson. “What he said today is not true. We’re in a crisis. It’s time for John Horgan to start telling the truth. There will be no return to medical services plan premiums under a B.C. Liberal government, period.”

Wilkinson said the Liberals were united in following the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to fight the pandemic, but Horgan decided to call an election and “betray the trust of the people of B.C.”

He said the Liberals will introduce a campaign platform in coming days that focuses on child care, addiction, housing and employment.

“It’s time to rebuild B.C.,” Wilkinson said. “It’s time to restore confidence.”

Horgan also met with local Indigenous leaders and visited nearby Kitimat.

The Terrace-Kitimat area is part of the Skeena riding, currently held by Liberal Ellis Ross.

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was campaigning in her Cowichan Valley riding on Vancouver Island.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

BC LiberalsBC NDPBC politicsBC Votes 2020John Horgan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Courtney Preyser is a music teacher and librarian for several schools in Kitimat, and her passion for music and literacy shows in her work. (Clare Rayment)
In Our Valley: Courtney Preyser

Preyser grew up with a passion for music and literacy, which shows in her work and life everyday

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Clare’s Corner: Giving thanks despite the negatives

Thanksgiving may have passed, but it’s never too late to count your blessings

<em>Black Press file photo</em>
Police look for vehicle after dangerous driving incident

The driver was speeding and failed to pull over for police

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read