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

Police seek potential victims of bad ‘nanny’

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Oak Bay firefighters help fund new Monterey playground

Sausage Fest cash handed over to Monterey PAC

Needles found at Goldstream campground in Langford

West Shore RCMP respond to several calls for service associated with homeless campers

Alcohol and drugs ruled out in serious crash that closed Sooke Rd last week

All three drivers taken to hospital have since been released

Neighbours fear impact of tent city residents on Goldstream Provincial Park

Langford residents opposed to campers voice concerns at campground gate

5 things to do this weekend in and around Greater Victoria

Sooke Apple Fest returns, Saanich lights up with lantern festival and anarchists unite for downtown book fair

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read