MLA breaks down MSP increases and assistance programs

Linda Larson
By Linda Larson
January 22nd, 2016

January is a long month for many of us. The lack of sun and lots of snow and ice seem to make everything more difficult. But before we know, spring will be on its way.

There has been media attention at the increase in MSP happening in January. It is about $3 a month for a single person, $5.50 for a couple and $6 for a family of three or more. We are, as government, committed to providing British Columbians with a health-care system that meets the demands of an aging and growing population. In 2015-16, the investment in health will reach a record $19.1 billion. The MSP premium contributes $2.3 billion to that total cost. Since 2002, health-care costs have risen 4.5 per cen each year and premiums have increased 2.6 per cent. That said, more than one million residents receive MSP subsidies and 800,000 pay no premiums at all.

There are two Premium Assistance Programs available and if you have questions about qualifying, please call 1-800-663-7100. Health Minister Terry Lake continues to push the federal government to more fairly pay the costs related to an aging population in B.C.

The Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness wants your input into the future of the Emergency Program Act (EPA). All British Columbians are invited to provide their comments byFeb. 19 by going to http://engage.gov.bc.ca/emergencyprogramact/. The input received through this consultation will be a key component of the government’s review of the EPA and contribute to possible changes to the legislation.

Many of you in several communities in Boundary-Similkameen have welcomed and continue to welcome Syrian refugees to our part of rural B.C. Canadians have a history of welcoming people from all parts of the world and most of us are only first- or second-generation Canadians. I think sometimes we forget about our own roots and the privilege it is to live in a country like Canada. We take it for granted and we complain at every opportunity. A big thank-you to all of you who are helping the newest immigrants settle into life here in our communities.

January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is experiencing the beginnings of dementia there is an excellent dementia helpline called First Link at 1-800-936-6033. The B.C. Alzheimer’s Society has also introduced a program called Dementia Friendly B.C. It provides tools, information and education for municipalities, professionals and the public. Go tohttp://www.alzheimer.ca/bc/

Thank you to the Oliver Rotary Club for inviting me to speak at their meeting. It’s always a pleasure to catch up on all the good work the Rotary and other volunteer organizations do in our small towns. I also attended the Boundary Woodlot Association meeting in Midway. The “farming” of trees is a lot more complicated than you can imagine, but this dedicated group is doing a great job of managing areas of forest in an environmentally sustainable way and have developed good partnerships with all levels of the forest industry.

The Legislature will resume on Feb. 9 in Victoria with the throne speech followed by the budget. B.C.’s fiscally prudent management of finances and introduction of job creation programs in 2015 has positioned the province well to continue to surpass the rest of Canada economically in 2016. I’m looking forward to another successful and productive year in the Boundary-Similkameen.

Jan. 27 is Family Literacy Day. Please take some time to read to your children every day if possible.

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