Reductions in Medical Services Plan premiums to benefit BCGEU members - BCGEU

Finance Minister Carole James recently announced that Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums will be cut by 50 per cent on Jan. 1, 2018. In addition to the 50 per cent rate cut, the income threshold for full exemption from MSP premiums under the premium assistance program will also be raised by $2,000, as of Jan. 1, 2018 as a further step in eliminating MSP premiums entirely within four years.

Currently, BCGEU members who work in the public service have 100 per cent of MSP premiums paid by the employer, under the provisions of Article 25.1 of our collective agreement with the Province of BC. As an additional benefit to members, the BCGEU has negotiated language which protects the monetary benefit of an employer-paid premium in the event of a legislative change by the Province. Current language in Article 25.8 of our Seventeenth Agreement says:

25.8 Legislative Changes

If the premium paid by the Employer for any employee benefit stipulated in this agreement is reduced as a result of any legislative or other action by the Government of British Columbia, the amount of the saving shall be used to increase other benefits available to the employees, as may be mutually agreed to between the parties.

"The B.C. government's commitment to reduce and eliminate MSP premiums is good news for British Columbians and our members," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The collective agreement language we negotiated will ensure that BCGEU members continue to benefit from the funds used to fund MSP premiums." 

In order to action this clause, the BCGEU has requested details on the costing of this saving which results from the 50 per cent reduction in MSP premiums. Once we have determined the amount of savings, the BCGEU and the BC Government will negotiate an increase to other benefits available to employees. The Public Service Bargaining Committee, comprised of elected representatives from each component, has decision-making authority for the Union.

Timelines on this issue will be determined once we have received information from the employer clarifying the amount of savings from this change. Further information will be provided when available.