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B.C. to eliminate Medical Services Plan premiums not paid by residents elsewhere

VANCOUVER — British Columbians will ring in the new year by joining all Canadians in not paying monthly rates for health care.

Premiums under the province’s Medical Services Plan will be eliminated starting Jan. 1, saving individuals up to $900 a year while families will pocket up to $1,800.

The Finance Ministry says ditching the “unfair” premiums will amount to a net tax cut of $800 million.

Finance Minister Carole James says the last such health-care tax in the country has been the most complex of any of the province’s programs to manage.

The change comes a year after premiums were halved and B.C. introduced a new tax of 1.95 per cent for businesses with a payroll over $1.5 million.

Companies with a payroll under $500,000 have been exempt from the tax, while those in between pay a reduced rate, though some business owners have complained it leads to losses when profit margins are already thin.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2019.

The Canadian Press