City council backed away from presenting a united front on lobbying the province to remove the requirement of B.C. seniors to pay medical services plan premiums during the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting.
Although a matter of provincial jurisdiction, the City had been asked by Audrey MacLise, chair of the Seniors’ Advisory Council of Williams Lake and Area, to advocate for the removal of MSP premiums for seniors.
In her letter to council, MacLise wrote that pensions do not increase or grow in incrementally small amounts that do not keep pace with inflation.
“Most seniors find their income eroded but cannot return to the workforce to improve their economic situation. Not having to pay MSP premiums would certainly help older adults to cope with increases in their cost of living.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Kerry Cook, speaking in support of the request said, “This is an important issue for our seniors.”
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor agreed, saying the price of everything goes up but the pension does not. Coun. Walters noted she also supported the resolution.
However, councillors Bourdon, Barr and Zacharias argued against it.
“I think it would be remiss to say all seniors,” Bourdon said. “I think it would be based on income. If you eliminate some seniors it will be passed on to someone else.”
Barr agreed, saying, “I can’t recommend the proposal as is.”
The motion was eventually defeated, which means the City will not present a united front on MSP premiums for seniors at the upcoming conference. B.C. has an income threshold and charges premiums for seniors who do not qualify for premium assistance.