B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson addresses Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler, Sept. 13, 2018. (UBCM photo)

Wilkinson targets health care tax costs for municipalities

B.C. Liberal leader says ICBC monopoly has to go

In his first speech to municipal leaders, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson focused on their frustration with a jump in employee medical premium costs they face next year.

The sudden increase for 2019 from continuing to pay Medical Services Plan premiums plus a new employer health tax leaves local governments with unpleasant options, Wilkinson told delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler Thursday. They are to cut programs, lay off staff or raise property taxes.

“Next year in Maple Ridge and New Westminster, you’ll see 400 per cent increase in health care premium costs to municipalities,” Wilkinson said. “In Oak Bay it goes from $86,000 to $450,000, another 400 per cent increase. In Prince George, from $330,000 to $1.6 million. In Saanich, $208,000 this year to almost $2 million next year.”

Finance Minister Carole James has provided exemptions to the tax on payrolls of $500,000 or more for non-profit organizations, and promised to increase budgets for school districts, universities and health authorities. But municipalities will see no relief, James confirmed Wednesday.

Wilkinson also targeted the NDP government’s speculation tax on vacant homes, noting that two thirds of the people who pay it are B.C. residents.

“Our housing problems will not be solved by piling on new taxes,” Wilkinson said.

RELATED: James unmoved by speculation tax concerns

Delegates struggled with the pending legalization of marijuana. Resolutions called for increased enforcement of odour control in medical cannabis growing, as the B.C. government prepares to licence Liquor Distribution Branch and private stores, as well as online sales.

Wilkinson said it should be up to communities whether they want to allow marijuana retail sales.

The B.C. Liberal leader also called for the province to end the ICBC monopoly on mandatory vehicle insurance, as the corporation faces increased accident rates and claim costs.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fuller Lake skaters impressive at Island regionals

Dawe overcomes injury for two high placings in interpretive, freeskate

Unplowed Roads parody song destined to be a classic

Move over Weird Al, Island elementary students on the same level

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Chemainus Rotarians help build a better life for Guatemalans

Houses, stoves and shoes the primary commodities supplied for the locals by volunteers

‘Riya was a dreamer’: Mother of slain 11-year-old Ontario girl heartbroken

Her father, Roopesh Rajkumar, 41, was arrested some 130 kilometres away

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

‘It consumed my life’: Inside the world of gaming addiction

World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition

Police seize bottles of grapefruit vodka from wanted man’s snow-pants

The men were pushing two shopping carts with a woman inside

Tonight’s sporting event costs more than the Super Bowl, and Obama is going

Tickets are going for more than $4,000 to watch the Duke - North Carolina basketball game

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Most Read