BC Liberals won’t restore MSP, expect employer health tax to remain ‘for time being’

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson made the pledge during a virtual rally

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson | Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

The leader of the BC Liberals is promising not to bring back the Medical Services Plan (MSP) should his party secure a government in the October provincial election.

Andrew Wilkinson made the pledge Saturday (September 26) after BC NDP leader John Horgan suggested at a campaign event earlier in the day the BC Liberals would “perhaps” revive the premiums.

“What he said today is not true,” Wilkinson said during a virtual rally facilitated over Facebook [Inc. (Nasdaq:FB)].

“There will be no return to medical services plan premiums under a BC Liberal government, period.”

MSP premiums were eliminated in January 2020, having been replaced by an employer health tax the BC Liberals have criticized for being too burdensome on businesses.

But Wilkinson said he has no plans axe the employer health tax at this point. 

“I expect it will carry on for the time being, because we're in a tough spot folks,” he said.

The BC Liberal leader promised during the rally to roll out a platform in the coming days following this week’s snap election call.

“It's a plan to talk about a positive future, a positive vision of British Columbia. It's a chance to think about how every single one of us, each of our families, each of our communities can say, ‘I see where we're going,’” Wilkinson said.

Leading into Wilkinson’s virtual address, BC Liberal MLA candidates chimed in over their home computers to chide Horgan for calling an election amid the pandemic.

Earlier in the day, the BC NDP leader defended the decision: “At the end of the day my singular focus is on the well-being of British Columbians, and on the recovery. That includes everybody and I made my decisions based on what I thought was in the best interest of British Columbia.”

Horgan, who enjoys the country’s highest popularity ratings among provincial leaders, was pressed earlier in the day by media on whether he was inspired to call the election based on September election results in New Brunswick.

The snap election in New Brunswick saw the province's Progressive Conservatives secure a majority government in September following two years of minority governance.

Horgan denied those results influenced his decision.

“John Horgan has betrayed the trust of the people of British Columbia. He has come out with stories that do not add up, that are simply not true about how this came to be about why we're having an election and about his own motivations,” Wilkinson said.

“And now we find ourselves in an election where people are questioning the ethics of the NDP, and the morality of a leader who's prepared to go out in the middle of a second wave pandemic and look out for his own job security.”

Following the BC Liberals' rally, the party announced it would provide free flu vaccines to British Columbians if it were to form government.

The party did not provide any cost estimates for such an endeavour.

torton@biv.com

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