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B.C. residents to pay more for medical and pension

Medical premiums for all but low-income B.C. residents go up again with the start of a new year.

The B.C. government is increasing its Medical Services Plan premiums for the fifth straight year, by four per cent across the board. The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation released its annual survey of tax and other payroll deductions Monday, calculating that MSP premiums in B.C. have risen 28 per cent since 2010.

Effective Jan. 1, the monthly health premium for a single person rises from $66.50 to $69.25. In 2014, families of two pay $125.50, up from $120.50, and families of three or more pay $138.50, up from $133.00.

Many full-time employees have their MSP premiums paid by their employer. People earning $30,000 or less are eligible for reduced premiums on a sliding scale, with premiums eliminated for those earning $22,000 a year or less.

The B.C. government has used the increased MSP revenues to offset the long-term growth of health care costs, which are approaching half of the total provincial budget.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong’s 2013 budget projected health spending to increase 2.3 per cent in the current fiscal year, 2.7 per cent in the year beginning April 1 and only 2.2 per cent the following year. The government’s critics called that unrealistic after years of increases of more than five per cent.

The CTF reports that Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance payments are also going up for many people, despite a federal government pledge to freeze EI premiums for three years.

In its New Year Tax Changes report, it calculates that maximum EI premiums will go up $23 in 2014, totalling $914 for the year.

The maximum employee Canada Pension Plan deduction, charged to those earning $52,500 or more, goes up $70 to $2,426. Employers match employee CPP payments dollar for dollar.

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