MSP fees are just a cash grab by province, feds

Economist Jon Kesselman is right on the ball when he refers to the MSP as a regressive tax [“Prof refers to B.C. MSP fee as a head tax”, December 31–January 7]. Those who pay full premiums are minimum-wage earners; self-employed, part-time, or temporary workers; seniors; and the unemployed—in other words, low-income.

Our MLAs have their premiums covered under “benefits”. Ditto public employees, union members, and most employees with high salaries. To add insult to injury, MSP is not considered a medical expense for income-tax purposes, so even those who have their premiums paid by employers pay more tax because premiums are added to earned income as a taxable benefit. Therefore, B.C. and Ontario residents pay a tax on a tax that other Canadians are not subject to. Isn’t that discriminatory?

Our provincial Liberals have encouraged this discrimination by increasing premiums. However, despite comments by former MLA David Schreck, the NDP made no attempt to cancel this unfair tax when it was in power.

Most British Columbians are thankful for our medicare system and would not object to a fair and equitable fee. Perhaps a user fee, but please make it a legitimate medical expense and not another excuse for an unfair tax grab by Ottawa.

> Peggy Hillman / Vancouver




Jan 11, 2010 at 7:50am

"Those who pay full premiums are minimum-wage earners; self-employed, part-time, or temporary workers; seniors; and the unemployed—in other words, low-income."

That isn't quite true, at least not in BC. Individuals/families who make less than $30,000 dollars can apply for premium assistance starting at 20% and as high as 100%. Someone who works full-time at a minimum wage job would qualify for the 100% assistance, meaning they wouldn't pay any premiums whatsoever.

If you wrote that statement because you happen to know people who make less than $30k net - after deducting $3,000 for their spouse and for each child and senior in the household - and are still paying full premiums, you should let them know about this because they're paying too much! (They can find the form at

C dax

Jul 13, 2011 at 2:55pm

People who make just over 30 per year are not rich, they are barely surviving in BC's ultra-expensive and job limited economy. I truly believe that the costs for medical services should only be collected through regular taxation never through individual premium payments. The current MSP places a cruel and unfair burden on the financially distressed and is simply an unfair heartless practice. I believe the MSP collection system goes against everything Canada stands for in regard to universal health care.

related links:

tax my as

Jul 29, 2011 at 9:26pm

I so agree CDAX..single mom, make $50k a year, in collections every year for 10 years now with MSP. I have tried and searched high and low to find stats on how many British Columbians are in collections with MSP, I know I can't afford this bill....sorry yes I want to pay based on earnings...but really...I don't want to pay the same as the guy next door who makes 400k year...seriously...just a tax, doesn't go to med services only libs please change the bench mark figures...30k..what's that? Oh and why do the kids automatically go on their moms 'bill"...send the father a collection notice with the kids fees on it....why the mom?? I pay for all their everything...can't get a dime of the father....yet I get the debt bill for them this province!!


Sep 8, 2011 at 5:16pm

Stop MSP now!!!! Its cash grab from the 'BC government!
Compare to Ontario and Alberta need to pay nothing to health care! why us!


Oct 24, 2011 at 5:24pm

My wife, son and I should qualify for premium assistance, but as we've just moved back to Canada from overseas, we need to wait 12 months before we can apply. So, now we're stuck paying $121 a month, which we can't really afford. One of the reasons we came back to Canada was because we thought we'd have free health care for our son; I guess not.


Jun 5, 2013 at 1:07pm

My husband works 6 days/week and I stay home and take care of our nearly 4 year old daughter because we can't afford daycare even if I do go back to work--now we got a notice saying our bill for msp is going from $25/month to no assistance at all now that we made over 30K before any spouse/child deductions--our monthly income is $2000-2400 we pay rent, insurance, hydro, phone/cable/internet, prescriptions--this takes at least 70-80% of our income how the heck are we supposed to afford $133 for msp--christ I rarely go to the doctor and certainly am not covered for dental so its just a big chunk of the pie disappearing for nothing


Aug 30, 2014 at 5:13pm

I owe $14,000 to MSP collection agencies and have to pay cash everytime I go to a doctor. Lived in BC whole life, spent 6 years in school then received a surprise bill charging me premium rates even though I had no income the entire time. Left the province for a year (notified them) and came back and discovered another year of fees was piled on top of the debt because of 'administration error' which they still haven't fixed.

Employer after that refused to pay the $100/month MSP premiums even though they were offered benefits, because "then MSP will come after us for your debt". Anyways I owe them $14k and rising, my whole life in BC paid cash for a doctor and once a serious amount of money for xrays when I injured a rib.