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

Student rangers sought for Terrace

Young adults interested in student ranger program have until Feb. 24 to apply

Skeena Sawmills audit good overall, but fault found in tree planting

Violation only issue discovered in Forest Practices Board report

DoK delays third reading of TSW land rezoning

Decision on hold until another public hearing is held

Is Terrace prepared for a rail disaster?

Council asked to review surge in dangerous goods movement: “I live in the blast zone,” says resident

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

Self serve doggy-wash poised to change dog grooming industry

Add money, start spraying to wash dog in the K9000

Federal Liberals announce former B.C. MLA as new candidate in byelection

Richard Lee will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh

No winning ticket in $10 million Lotto Max jackpot

No win in Friday night’s draw means the next Lotto Max draw will be approximately $17 million

Scientists ID another possible threat to orcas: pink salmon

For two decades, significantly more of the whales have died in even-numbered years than in odd years

Burnaby byelection turmoil sparks debate about identity issues in politics

The Liberals still have not said whether they plan to replace Wang, who stepped aside Wednesday

B.C. woman planned to donate a kidney to her husband, then found out she has cancer

Richard Stuart needs a kidney, his wife Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Most Read