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Fact-Check

This BC Liberal MLA Thinks Changes to Healthcare Funding Will Cost Families ‘$23’. They’re Actually Saving $1,800.

He forgot to mention one very significant detail

February 6, 2019

BC Liberal MLA Ian Paton is using fuzzy math to falsely claim his constituents will be left “$23” out-of-pocket as a result of the BC government’s recent changes to healthcare funding, when they stand to save up to $1,800 instead.

Speaking to the Delta Optimist last weekend, Paton told the local newspaper he is outraged about BC’s new Employer Health Tax (EHT) – which replaces Medical Service Premiums (MSP) introduced by the old BC Liberal government – and claiming property taxes are skyrocketing in the City of Delta.

The EHT requires employers with payrolls over $500,000 to make contributions for public healthcare. Since the City of Delta is also an employer, the city says it needs to raise property taxes by 1% to cover healthcare obligations – according to Paton, that works out to a $23 per homeowner.

Except the BC Liberal MLA forgot one important detail: starting in 2020, individuals will save up to $900 per year and families will save up to $1,800 per year as a result of the BC government’s decision to get rid of the MSP.

So, looking at the bigger picture, Delta homeowners are actually going to be saving a good deal of cash thanks to these changes.

Thanks to the BC Liberals’ MSP plan, families paid up to $150 every month or up to $1,800 per year in premiums by the time the BC Liberals were voted out in 2017.

Experts and analysts described the MSP as “regressive” and “unfair,” since everyone earning more than $42,000 per year pays the same premium. This means individuals and middle income families paid a much higher proportion of their paycheque than BC’s high-income and super high-income earners.

And if that wasn’t unfair enough, MSP rates more than doubled under the last BC Liberal government from $36 to $75 per month for individual payers. Premiums became so high in 2015 that MSP revenues were greater than corporate tax revenue.

Paton’s comments about EHT follow a pattern. During a debate in the legislature last year, he claimed a farming company would be on the hook for $100,000 because of the tax.

However, BC Finance Minister Carole James pointed out businesses with payrolls under $500,000 per year won’t pay the tax at all, and only businesses with payrolls exceeding $1.5 million will pay the full 1.95% rate.

Paving the Way to Privatization

Critics argue the BC Liberals’ introduction of MSP led to affordability issues for some public healthcare users, which in turn paved the way for privatization and a “two-tier” healthcare system.

Policy analysts also accused the last BC Liberal government of further undermining public healthcare by “opening the door” to “hospital privatization.”

In addition to cutting healthcare funding, the party introduced Bill 29 in 2002. That made it easier for healthcare employers to contract services out to private companies. The bill also removed provisions protecting workers laid off.

Additionally, in 2003 the Liberals introduced Bill 94, which was designed to “facilitate development and implementation of public-private partnerships in the health sector.” Healthcare workers argued this legislation made it harder for unions to organize and resist changes towards privatization.

Both bills were repealed last year.

Over Reliance on Private Funding

Despite his party’s track record, Paton still praised the BC Liberals’ management of public healthcare in 2017, saying he was “enthusiastic” about the state of his city’s local Hospital.

Coincidentally, Paton’s wife sits on the board of directors for the Delta Hospital Foundation, which raises private funds for the city’s public hospital.

But studies warn that public hospitals across Canada are becoming too reliant on revenue from the private sector, as struggling hospitals increasingly have to recuperate cuts in government funding.

 

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