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

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.

BC Budget 2018BC legislature

Just Posted

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

The woman also received distracted driving tickets in 2018 and 2019. (Black Press File Photo)
Oak Bay driver gets third distracted driving ticket in four years

Officer caught the woman using her phone while at the wheel

The buildings commonly known as the White Barn (just of the left, behind the building with the sign) and the Hay Barn, still standing May 3, are slated to come down from the former Woodwynn Farms site in Central Saanich now under ownership of the Tsartlip First Nation. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)
Tsartlip First Nation plans to use former Woodwynn Farms property for cattle ranching

First Nation also plans to restock Hagen Creek with salmon

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read