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

Rupal Tanna behind the counter at the new Crofton Pharmacy. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Crofton Pharmacy open for business

Residents not able to travel happy for the convenience

The road into Crofton will be a lot nicer when the roller coaster bumps are taken out of Crofton Road. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Crofton Road improvements to start taking shape Nov. 2

It’ll be a long haul until next summer to get it done and motorists should expect delays

Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor has expressed concerns about the excessive freighters parked in the Salish Sea for quite some time. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

Doug Routley of the NDP is relaxed after learning he’d won a fifth term as MLA. (Photo submitted)
NDP dominance continues in Nanaimo-North Cowichan with Routley’s reelection

Runner-up Istace enthused about the rise of the Greens in the riding and the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read