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

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Haida artist Derek Edenshaw helps Rupert spruce up city

A giant kraken, painted by local artists under Edenshaw’s tutelage, is now on display

Haida Gwaii teacher denied paid bereavement travel leave

Arbitrator sides with B.C. Teachers Federation in dispute over funeral trip

Skeena mainstem closed to recreational sockeye

Escapements expected to be below 800,000 threshold

Rainbow Yarnbombing takes over

Haida Gwaii Knitting Group surprise the islands

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

B.C.-wide police efforts identify Vancouver Island robbery suspect

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Most Read