Education Minister Rob Fleming takes questions in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 27, 2018. (Hansard TV)

School districts adding up cost of new health tax

Education Minister Rob Fleming ducks double tax questions

B.C.’s 60 school districts are updating their budgets for next year, when they will have to pay employee Medical Services Plan premiums and a new health tax on payrolls coming in to replace it.

In the legislature Tuesday, opposition critics jumped on reports from districts that the 2019 costs of double taxation are going to result in extra millions in costs before MSP is phased out in 2020.

Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap said his local school district has to cover more than $2 million next year, and pressed Education Minister Rob Fleming on whether there would be any relief for them.

“The new employer tax that the government is downloading on school boards was not anticipated,” Yap said. “Richmond school board is facing $2.2 million in cuts to the classroom. Again to the minister, is there money in the budget for school boards to pay the new employer tax?”

Fleming emphasized the savings school districts get from the 50-per-cent reduction in MSP premiums that took effect on Jan. 1. He then recited a list of new education investments, from seismic upgrades to the 3,700 teachers hired to meet the terms of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year.

At one point, Speaker Darryl Plecas was moved to remind Fleming that “shorter answers are good” in question period.

RELATED: NDP getting push-back on health care tax

B.C. Liberal education critic Dan Davies said the cost for Vancouver would be more than $7 million next year.

Finance Minister Carole James has indicated that the impact of the payroll tax on municipalities and school districts is still up for discussion before it takes effect next year.

The tax is on all employers, including non-profits and local governments, with payroll costs in excess of $500,000. The highest rate is 1.95 per cent of the payroll, for businesses and organizations with a payroll of $1.5 million or higher.

Just Posted

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

North Island College Foundation helps more students than ever in the Comox Valley

More than 170 North Island College students in the Comox Valley received… Continue reading

Courtenay mom warns of candy-luring incident near Willemar Road

A Courtenay mother is speaking out after a man was reported to… Continue reading

SLIDESHOW: Remembrance Day in Courtenay

A large crowd gathered in downtown Courtenay Sunday morning to remember those… Continue reading

Trudeau warns of dangers of nationalist leaders at historic armistice gathering

U.S. President Donald Trump in recent weeks described himself as a nationalist

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

Politicians need to do better on social media, Trudeau says

Prime minister suggests at conference in Paris some are trying to use technology to polarize voters

Wally Buono exits CFL, stinging from painful playoff loss

B.C. Lions lost the Eastern semifinal to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday, 48-8

Pot company hopes to replace jobs lost in mill closure in B.C. town

About 200 workers lost their jobs when the Tolko sawmill in Merritt shuttered in 2016

Funding announcement promises to drive business innovation in B.C.

Minister is scheduled to make the announcement at the Penticton campus of Okanagan College

Ticats destroy Lions 48-8 in CFL East Division semifinal

Wally Buono’s last game as B.C. coach ends in disappointment

Most Read