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

.
ON COOKING: Chef offers a new take on pumpkin spice

Pumpkin puree can be used to make a salad dressing

Tristan Kennedy, and his mom Naya, proudly displaying their joke book - A Reason to Smile. (Special to THE NEWS)
Pitt Meadows boy turns funny quarantine pastime into joke book

Tristan Kennedy, 5, placed wisecrack signs at the end of his driveway for 155 straight days

The Citizen of the Year awards were held on Saturday, as a virtual event.
Citizens of the year for Maple Ridge named

Maple Ridge Community Foundation holds annual awards night

Phase three of Onni’s Golden Ears Business Park is before council Tuesday.
New look for Golden Ears Business Park in Pitt Meadows

Zoom webinar allows public to share thoughts with council on Tuesday

Jason Nagy, centre, and his foster parents Peggy and Robert Maikawa. (Jason Nagy/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge volunteer reunites with foster parents after three decades

Discovered his name on a list of volunteers for the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

Most Read