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MSP task force recommends scrapping Home Owner Grant, tax on sugary drinks

Last Updated Jun 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm PDT

(Photo courtesy: Government of BC)

PST would apply to all non-alcoholic beverages except for non-carbonated water and unflavoured milk

NDP government has yet to commit to any of the task force's recommendations

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A provincial task force meant to find ways to pay for the NDP’s cuts to Medical Services Plan premiums (MSP) is recommending the Home Owner Grant be scrapped, and most non-alcoholic drinks be subject to provincial sales tax.

The team’s final report, released today, advocates for five changes in total. The recommendations are not binding, and the province has yet to indicate if they will be implemented.

“I’d like to thank the MSP Task Force members for their time and expertise… we appreciate their analysis as we continue our work to make life better for people in BC,” says Minister of Finance Carole James in a statement.

PST would be added to all non-alcoholic beverages except for non-carbonated water and unflavoured milk.

But Kris Sims, the BC Director of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, says government insiders have already told her they have no desire to tax sugary drinks.

“They’re not considering putting PST on to things like chocolate milk or soda pop or things like that right now. [We’re] hoping that that stays that way and they don’t start unfairly taxing people for food that they choose to purchase and to drink,” she says.

She also doubts the Home Owner Grant will be eliminated at a time when many are struggling to make mortgage payments.

Among the task force’s other recommendations is the creation of a combined refundable tax credit, potentially named the “Dogwood Benefit”, which would include an enhanced Sales Tax Credit, an enhanced Climate Action Tax Credit, and new homeowner and renter tax credits.

The group also suggests ways to improve business competitiveness by reducing the impact of the PST on machinery and equipment or all capital spending.

MSP premiums will be eliminated in BC effective Jan. 1, 2020. A new payroll tax is expected to be introduced one year prior.