Red Deer MP pleased benefit tax dropped

Taxing health benefits would have cost Canadians as much as $1,000, says Red Deer-Mountain View MP.

Those opposed to the Liberal government’s proposed health and dental benefits tax are pleased it has been dropped.

Red Deer-Mountain View Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen and the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce both said the tax was a bad idea and would hurt Canadians.

After days of uncertainty about Liberal intentions, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ruled out the tax in Parliament on Wednesday.

“We are committed to protecting the middle class from increased taxes and that is why we will not be raising (those) taxes,” Trudeau said during question period.

Dreeshen said they got wind of the proposed tax last December and the Conservatives were determined to oppose it. Many Canadians, businesses and the insurance industry were also opposed to what he called a “misguided tax grab.

“People had reason to be concerned,” he said. “Many people were suggesting it could be as much as $1,000 a year in additional expenses that could come out of it.

“So we did take (the government) to task and they backed off on that issue.”

Dreeshen said the tax was meant to be a revenue generator for a government that has a spending problem.

“They were elected on a $10-billion credit card and they just blew by that.”

Red Deer chamber interim CEO Rick More said taxing those benefits would have had “serious consequences to local employers and employees.

“Benefit programs would have become much more expensive, inevitably reducing access and coverage for families.”

The Red Deer chamber along with the Alberta and Canadian chambers actively opposed the tax plan and lobbied MPs to stop it.

More said benefits play an important role in attracting and retaining workers by ensuring families have affordable access to health care.

“We are incredibly relieved the federal government has decided not to pursue taxing these essential benefits.”

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