B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson addresses Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler, Sept. 13, 2018. (UBCM photo)

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.

UBCM

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hotel Zed Tofino has won a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Award. (Westerly file photo)
Hotel Zed Tofino wins commercial building award

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board holds virtual gala.

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

The Village on Third in Nanaimo won the Judges’ Choice award as top overall entry at the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards. (Photo submitted)
Top developments north of the Malahat honoured by Vancouver Island Real Estate Board

Nanaimo’s Village on Third takes top honour at VIREB Commercial Building Awards

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Most Read