Finance Minister Carole James takes questions in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 26, 2018. (Hansard TV)

B.C. NDP getting employer push-back on health care tax

Carole James says she’ll consult not-for-profits, municipalities

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James is on the defensive as opposition MLAs press her on a new health care payroll tax being implemented next year.

The new “employers health tax” takes effect in 2019 at 1.95 per cent for businesses with payroll of more than $1.5 million per year. Some businesses that already pay Medical Services Plan premiums on behalf of employees face the prospect of paying both MSP premiums and the new tax for a year, before the NDP government promises to eliminate MSP in 2020.

In question period at the B.C. legislature Monday, B.C. Liberal critics called the new tax “double dipping” and confronted James with examples of the impact. Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux cited a non-profit organization in her constituency that is wondering what to cut with an extra $39,000 cost next year to pay the tax and the premiums.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell said a car dealership in her constituency is looking at a $60,000 bill due to the changes unveiled in James’ inaugural budget last week.

In the legislature, James reminded B.C. Liberals that their government doubled MSP premiums with a series of increases that had it bringing in $2.6 billion by 2017. The NDP government followed through with a commitment to cut the rate by half at the start of this year, and 85 per cent of B.C. businesses won’t pay the new tax, she said.

RELATED: Payroll tax to replace medical premiums

Speaking to reporters later, James didn’t have much sympathy for businesses that will pay the tax but aren’t contributing to employee MSP costs.

“Certainly businesses who have not been contributing to medical services premiums will have a little bit more to have to pay for their employees, to contribute to health care in our province,” James said.

She held out hope for non-profits that are looking at extra costs. The new tax begins at a lower rate for organizations with payroll of more than $500,000, with the top rate paid by those at $1.5 million or higher.

“That’s why we give it a year for implementation, so we can have discussions with not-for-profits, with school districts, with municipalities, to determine how those resources are going to be allocated,” James said.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Langley holds birthday bash for late Queen Victoria

Thousands came out Monday to celebrate May Day with a parade, pole dancing, and a party in the park.

Tyler O’Neill homers in three straight games

Slugger from Maple Ridge back in the Majors

VIDEO: AOK took Langley home and ‘made it amazing’

Volunteers did two weeks of repairs and retrofitting to make the Adam family house safe and livable.

2018 Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair Round-up

Looking back on the community events, rodeo and country fair that took place over May long weekend

VIDEO: Flames destroy abandon Langley home Monday

Fire ripped through a single-storey house in Brookswood on the holiday Monday.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

UBC professor claims victory at B.C. car race

A physics engineering professor had the fastest time during Kelowna hill climb race

Most Read