NDP: Wilkinson’s plan to eliminate Employer Health Tax means healthcare cuts or MSP again

THE NDP noted on Saturday that in opposition, Andrew Wilkinson consistently fought and voted against the Employers’ Health Tax, which was created in 2018 to fund the BC NDP’s elimination of Medical Services Premiums. 

“I’d like to, first of all, get rid of the unnecessary NDP taxes that have been piled on this year. That starts with this Employer Health Tax, which is going to drive up the costs of doing business in BC and drive employment out of BC.” –Andrew Wilkinson, CKNW, May 17, 2018.

The EHT is a progressive payroll tax paid by the largest 15% of BC businesses. Businesses with payrolls under $500,000 a year pay no EHT. Only businesses with payroll over $1,500,000 pay the full amount of 1.95%. 96% of the revenue comes from the largest 5% of employers.

The NDP said that eliminating MSP saved British Columbians up to $1,800 per year.

EHT brings in $1.8 billion every year to fund healthcare and other services. If Andrew Wilkinson eliminates the EHT, he has two ways to pay for it: cuts to healthcare, or raising fees – like bringing back MSP, said the NDP. 

In another statement, the NDP said Wilkinson and his MLAs criticized the EHT 348 times in the legislature. Wilkinson himself attacked it 12 times. (2018,2019,2020)

When asked on Saturday about his commitment to cancel it, Wilkinson dodged the question and attempted to downplay his previous promises, the NDP said. 

But minutes later, BC Liberal MLA Candidate Jordan Sturdy took to twitter to call the EHT “lunacy”.

BC NDP candidate George Heyman said: “Andrew Wilkinson’s views on the Employer Health Tax are undeniable. But he knows that British Columbians don’t support tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations because it will mean healthcare cuts or higher fees for everyone else. He has made his intentions clear many times. He would scrap the EHT and make people pay for it.” 

IN Terrace, standing in front of the Mills Memorial Hospital, Premier John Horgan warned that Wilkinson’s plan to hand the wealthy and well-connected a big tax break would have to be paid for with cuts to health or a return of Medical Service Premiums—or a combination of both.

John Horgan in Terrace. Photo: BC NDP

“Andrew Wilkinson wants to cut taxes for those at the top and make ordinary people bear the cost,” said Horgan. “Mr. Wilkinson needs to come clean with British Columbians: Will he make families pay huge MSP bills again? Or will he cut health care projects, like the new hospital we are building here in Terrace? No matter what, it is people who will pay the price.”

“Now more than ever, people in BC need better health care that’s faster and closer to home, no matter where they live,” said Nicole Halbauer, Horgan’s BC NDP candidate in Skeena. “After years of neglect, our community is finally going to get the new, state-of-the-art hospital we deserve. We can’t afford to put that progress at risk for another BC Liberal tax giveaway to those at the top.”

In 2017, John Horgan committed to building a new hospital in Terrace. Last year, he followed through on that commitment by approving a business plan for the project. A new Mills Memorial Hospital is expected to be completed on schedule in 2024, the NDP pointed out.