Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Health care in the era of COVID-19 took centre stage at campaign stops Saturday by the leaders of British Columbia’s New Democratic and Liberal parties.

NDP Leader John Horgan promised to build a long-awaited new hospital in northwest British Columbia if re-elected, while suggesting the Liberals were considering tax cuts for the wealthy and reinstating medical services plan premiums to cover costs.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson vowed not to bring back medical services plan premiums, while accusing Horgan of plunging the province into an unnecessary election during a pandemic.

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week, saying he needs the stability of a majority government. B.C.’s fixed election date was set for October 2021.

“It’s hard to find anybody to say it’s time to go to the polls,” Wilkinson said at a Vancouver campaign event. “It’s just irresponsible. It’s just plain wrong.”

Horgan said the people of British Columbia need a government that improves health care across the province and strives to make life more affordable.

He stood at the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace, promising to spend $441 million to expand and replace the aging, decades-old facility by 2024, if re-elected.

“We heard the stories of years and years of promises from the B.C. Liberals to take action to replace this decrepit building,” Horgan said at a news conference.

“There’s been a lot of industrial activity in this region over the decades and having state-of-the-art, acute-care facilities are absolutely central to the people in the region.”

Horgan said the Liberals could be considering bringing back MSP premiums, which were eliminated by the NDP in January 2020.

“The Liberals want to go back to the days when they would take money out of your pocket to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthy and the well connected,” he said.

Horgan said the NDP’s elimination of the premiums was the largest middle class tax cut in B.C. history, amounting to annual savings of about $1,800 for an average family.

Wilkinson flatly rejected Horgan’s suggestion that the Liberals are considering bringing back medical services plan premiums.

“It seems that John Horgan is intent on destroying his credibility every single day,” said Wilkinson. “What he said today is not true. We’re in a crisis. It’s time for John Horgan to start telling the truth. There will be no return to medical services plan premiums under a B.C. Liberal government, period.”

Wilkinson said the Liberals were united in following the advice of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to fight the pandemic, but Horgan decided to call an election and “betray the trust of the people of B.C.”

He said the Liberals will introduce a campaign platform in coming days that focuses on child care, addiction, housing and employment.

“It’s time to rebuild B.C.,” Wilkinson said. “It’s time to restore confidence.”

Horgan also met with local Indigenous leaders and visited nearby Kitimat.

The Terrace-Kitimat area is part of the Skeena riding, currently held by Liberal Ellis Ross.

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was campaigning in her Cowichan Valley riding on Vancouver Island.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

BC LiberalsBC NDPBC politicsBC Votes 2020John Horgan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District Forest Service buildings in Birch Island, 1960’s. (Upper North Thompson Reflections photo)
A look at the BC Forestry Service

The following is an excerpt from Upper North Thompson Reflections By M.E.… Continue reading

Barriere Secondary School grade 12 students Angela Rutschke, Micheal Reierson, Morgan Bennett, Benton Kibble, and Cassidy Sager were onsite in Louis Creek last week stacking firewood as they fundraise for their Grad 2021 celebrations. (Photo submitted by 2021 Grad)
Barriere Grad Class stacking on the fundraising for 2021

The Barriere Secondary School grade 12 class has been hard atwork recently… Continue reading

Munro’s Clothing and Accessories is a great place for Barriere and area residents to find all the latest in ladies fashions. Trista Stamer was spotted checking out the merchandise at this local small business last Tuesday. (Jill Hayward photo)
Small business owners must have ingenuity, courage, and dedication

Barriere has almost 100 small businesses servicing the area

Barriere Country Feeds is a long time small business in the community, and has been owned by the Petersen family since 1996. Pictured are employees Brenda Jones and Mike Hlewka. (Jill Hayward photo)
Canadian entrepreneurs forging the way forward

BDC Small Business Week ttakes place from Oct. 18 - 24

District of Barriere Utilities Manager reports to council on Barriere wells

District of Barriere Utilities Manager Ian Crosson presented a verbal report during… Continue reading

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, Cullen apologize for NDP candidate’s comments about Haida candidate

Nathan Cullen had made insensitive comments about Roy Jones Jr. Cheexial

Most Read