Watchdog group accuses Saanich of exaggerating effects of new health tax

A local watchdog group questions Saanich’s messaging around the effects of the employer health tax.

Grumpy Taxpayer$ said in a release that the group “agrees and sympathizes” with findings from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). They show local governments including Saanich will feel a “significant” impact on their municipal finances as the new tax leaves Saanich with a menu of politically unappetizing choices.

“We question a tax policy that results in the funding of a provincial service (healthcare) through property taxation,” said board member Bruce Kennedy.“That said, we strongly disagree with the CAO and his alarmist message. There’s no need to cut off a limb, but simply a willingness to go on a diet.”

The provincial government plans to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums paid by each British Columbian (unless exempt) and replace them with the EHT paid by employers with 2019 as a transition year during which the provincial government will collect both MSPs and the EHT.

Saanich, according to the report, will pay $1.78 million to cover the new EHT plus $209,000 for employee MSP premiums with Saanich planning to split the additional cost between property taxes and user fees.

Comments from chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson suggests Saanich would find it difficult to absorb the increase without raising taxes.

“Saanich cannot manage a property tax increase [of 1.3 per cent] from this additional expense through simple ‘belt tightening,’” he said. “We would have to amputate a limb.”

Grumpy Taxpayer$, however, questions this language.

Kennedy said Saanich could be more selective in funding capital projects. “Saanich fails to consider slowing the pace of the new ‘nice to do’ capital projects, such as the $5 million next year and $8 million the following year budgeted for the Complete Streets initiative,” he said. “Just pushing that to three years could cover this issue with room to spare.”

Capital projects need a proper business plan and need to be prioritized, so we do what we can afford, he said.

“There’s also a million dollar strategic initiative fund — which even some councilors have termed a slush fund — with money outside the normal budgetary process that escapes scrutiny,” he said.

Just Posted

VicPD honours seven citizens for their courage and dedication

Civic Service Awards presented at ceremony in Hall of Honour

Oak Bay volunteer fair aims to sow seeds of giving time

Oak Bay Volunteer Services hopes to attract the next generation

‘It’s just hair:’ Central Saanich woman chops her locks for Wigs for Kids

Wigs for Kids BC will receive two 12-inch braids from Brentwood Bay resident Liza Glynn

New orca calf in Salish Sea ‘healthy and active’

Birth cause for celebration but things still dire genetically, expert says

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

Most Read