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Kudos to BC Greens for Taking on BC MSP Rip Off

January 29th, 2015 · 52 Comments

BC Taxpayers are being ripped off by the Liberal BC government with our Medical Services Plan premiums …and the BC Greens have launched a campaign to STOP the abuse.

Kudos to BC Greens Deputy Leader for calling out the government’s ever-increasing “health” tax system … unparalleled ANYWHERE ELSE in the country.

BC is the only province in the country to charge MSP premiums – a flat rate tax – that charges a fixed- and low-income earner the exact same amount as a millionaire. That’s just wrong,” Weaver pointed out recently.

In fact, it’s even worse than that.

In Alberta …which also has NO provincial sales tax … there are also NO health premium fees; in Ontario, the fees are part of annual income tax calculations and not only do higher income earners pay higher health premiums, anyone over 65 pays NONE at all; same in Quebec  and other provinces where health premiums are now calculated as part of income tax revenues.

ONLY in BC do we still pay SEPARATE monthly health premiums … and I don’t know about you, but they sure have RISEN a lot faster than my Pension income!!!

Here’s this year’s MSP Premium charges …paid by all of us earning  $30,000 or more … individually or as a family: Effective January 1, 2015, monthly rates went UP to $72.00 a month for one person, $130.50 a month for a family of two and $144.00 for a family of three or more.

Last year, the rates were  UP, hitting $69.25 for one person, $125.50 for a family of two and $138.50 for a family of three or more;  the year before that individuals paid $66.50 … UP from $64 a month in 2012 and families paid $128.50 in 2013 … UP from $120.50 in 2012.

Get the picture?

There, of course, is no such thing as “free” health care … but BC’s premium system is the MOST UNFAIR in the nation.

The BC Liberal government …. again, unlike ANY OTHER PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT in Canada … has been hitting its residents year after year with increase after increase under a totally non-discretionary EXTRA  compulsory tax  …. almost totally unrelated to income: and … not even giving a break to RETIRED SENIORS LIVING ONLY ON PENSIONS.

“There are far better ways of funding our healthcare system. They are called “progressive” options: taxing residents based on their ability to pay (ie: their income level), such as through income taxes, as is done is every other province in Canada,” Weaver said.

The Green’s BC deputy leader (who has also announced his intention to run for party leader) wants the government to ELIMINATE MSP premiums in next month’s budget.

Bravo!

And if you agree, there’s a petition on line you can support to urge just that:  http://www.greenparty.bc.ca/msp.

I’ve already done so.

Harv Oberfeld

→ 52 CommentsTags: British Columbia

Canadian Media Have a Bad “Trust” Month

January 23rd, 2015 · 48 Comments

It’s one of the oldest rules of journalism: a good story should include the BIG basics… Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. And when ALL those criteria are met, readers, listeners and viewers can confer the most precious approval rating for the story, the reporter and the news organization: TRUST.

Unfortunately, it’s been a BAD month for Canadian media when it comes to TRUST.

First CBC Vancouver did a story (I did not see any TV piece …but the story DID appear on the CBC.Ca BC website) reporting that “a NEW information-sharing agreement between Canada and the United States … could put travelers who regularly spend a lot of time in the US at risk of significant consequences”.

Quoting Gail Hunnisett,  constituency assistant for BC MP Alex Atamanenko (NDP-BC Southern Interior), the CBC  explained that it’s a “misconception” that Canadians can spend 182 days a year in the US, without being considered a US resident for tax purposes.

The original CBC story explained Canadians can actually only spend 120 days a year in the US … not 182.

Wow!  Great story! It actually went national … picked up by other websites, newspapers. Tens of thousands of Canadian travelers …business, snowbirds, travelers … were alerted, informed and I’d dare say even frightened.

Hunnisett said, though, the 120 days could be extended to 182 days by filling out a special form proving their closer connection to Canada.

WAIT A MINUTE!!!

That’s NOT new.  That’s been the rule for a decade …. I’ve been filling out that form (IRS Form 8840)  for years! And so have tens of thousands of other Canadians, each and every year.

But the panic was out there … worried Canadians fearing cutbacks in their travels contacting friends, lawyers and The Canadian Snowbird Association asking/wondering/fretting about the “NEW” rules.

Until the Snowbird Association issued a statement that began:

“ In a recent article which appeared on CBC News’ British Columbia website, it was suggested that Canadian citizens are only allowed to spend 120 days in the United States each year. For clarification purposes, the Canadian Snowbird Association would like to remind travellers to the U.S. that this information is incorrect.”

INCORRECT?

“ Further, the CBC News article also discussed the Entry/Exit Initiative, a bi-national border program in which entry and exit data will be shared on individuals travelling between Canada and the United States. While this initiative was scheduled to be expanded on June 30, 2014, to include Canadian and American citizens, the necessary legislative and regulatory changes have not been implemented. At present, the Entry/Exit Initiative is not fully operational,” the Snowbird organization assured Canadians.

WHEW! (You can read the whole CSBA statement here:http://www.snowbirds.org/us-travel-rules-clarified.

Clearly bad reporting …scare mongering that went right across the country … and “incorrect”.

CBC then changed its original story, adding:

“Hunnisett said that for people travelling to the U.S. for long stays year after year, it’s actually 120 days, or four months, averaged using a special formula over a period of three years.”

In other words, the same rule that has been in effect for years.

No “NEW” limit, no “NEW” change, no “NEW” story.

Was there NO verification, NO secondary sourcing, No checking before publishing?

Bad for establishing/keeping the public TRUST!

But that was nothing compared to what was going on back East, in Toronto.

Global Television anchor and executive editor Leslie Roberts resigned after it was revealed he had a business affiliation with a public relations firm, Buzz PR,whose clients he featured and/or referred to in glowing terms on Global network shows.

Yech!

Buzz PR reportedly billed itself as “Toronto’s top public relations agency and said it specialized in securing media appearances for its clients.  How true!

Somehow, though, Roberts failed to tell his Global bosses of his own links to Buzz PR and it only surfaced after the Toronto Star revealed the link in an investigative piece.  The anchor was suspended pending an investigation …and then quit.

Sleaze!

More media trust down the toilet.

And then there was Amanda Lang of CBC Toronto.  (Like I said, this was a BAD month for Canadian media!).

This week, the CBC BANNED on-air journalists from making any paid outside  appearances, after it was revealed Lang had accepted money from Manulife for moderating two seminars and was paid by Sun Life for a speech.

Further digging revealed that CBC broadcasters Peter Mansbridge, Dianne Buckner, Diana Swain and Evan Solomon had also made appearances/speeches for cash.

Trust?

How can Canadians trust “journalists” who accept money from those they “cover”?   I don’t believe we can or should.

BUT I would make one exception: pundits, experts, commentators for one station or network sometimes appear on other stations or networks pedalling their expertise. (ie Palmer or Baldrey or Smyth or Spector doing “freelance” gigs in other media. Agree or disagree with them, those discussions do help the overall discourse of issues and no one should be required to work for free (especially for multi-million-dollar news organizations) and if their employers allow it, I am not perturbed if they are paid for their comments or expertise.)

But they must NEVER work/appear before those they cover: companies, lobby groups, political parties or government departments or agencies.

It’s about TRUST.

An important journalistic commodity … that has taken a few hard hits this month.

And there’s still a week to go.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: Anyone who wants First Alerts to postings on this blog can get them by just following me on Twitter  (@harveyoberfeld). No spam, no cost, no ads.)

→ 48 CommentsTags: British Columbia · Media · National