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

Mathieu Caron leads Chilliwack Chiefs to shutout win over Wenatchee Wild

Chilliwack’s netminder stopped 29 pucks Saturday night in a BCHL Showcase game at Prospera Centre.

Chilliwack Chiefs erase three goal deficit in overtime win

Down 3-0 to the Cowichan Capitals, the Chiefs came back to win 4-3 in the BCHL Showcase match.

Chilliwack man feeling helpless about puppy stolen while at church

Evidence of neighbour trespassing and accusing him of dog neglect not enough for RCMP

UPDATE: Missing Chilliwack man has been found

Chilliwack RCMP is thanking the public for keeping an eye out

UPDATED: Chilliwack councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

Ottawa area residents take stock of tornado rubble as Ford tours the ruins

A tornado on Friday afternoon tore roofs off of homes, overturned cars and felled power lines in the Ottawa community of Dunrobin and in Gatineau, Que.

Trudeau urges leaders to follow Nelson Mandela’s example at UN tribute

Peace summit in New York marks 100th birthday of former South African president

Senate seats filled in B.C., Saskatchewan

Canada’s newest senators are the first woman to lead the RCMP and a Cree Metis businessman

Newfoundland’s popular ‘merb’ys’ calendar is back

The calendar of burly, bearded mermen posing against scenic backdrops for charity returns

Less than half of Metro Vancouverites feel they can influence government: study

SFU researchers suggest most people believe elected officials don’t care

Cap rent increases at inflation rate, B.C. task force recommends

MLAs say drop annual increase that would allow 4.5% rise next year

School, church, old mining site make Heritage BC’s first ‘watch list’

The list includes sites in need of protection to maintain B.C.’s culture and history

5 to start your day

Maple Ridge students send books to fire-destroyed school, teen stabbed in Surrey park and more

Yowza! Twerk, emoji and facepalm are added to Scrabble dictionary, OK?

Merriam-Webster has announced 300 new words have been added to the spelling game

Most Read