Province cold to local politician advantages 2023

The provincial government has no interest in a Summerland-created plan to provide health benefits to local legislators.

Former Summerland mayor Toni Boot proposed the idea of offering “accessible” health benefits to entice more diverse candidates to run for office in early 2022. The idea ultimately found its way into a motion that was adopted at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention in September 2022.

The motion was then sent to the British Columbia Ministry of Municipal Affairs, which declined to take action.

“Government recognizes the importance of increasing the diversity of candidates running in local elections and appreciates the leadership of the UBCM in coordinating the group benefits plan, which provides local elected officials with several benefits available to public servants,” states the ministry’s response in a letter from UBCM president Jen Ford to Summerland council dated March 6.

“The province has no role in this relationship or arrangement and supports the current approach, in which the UBCM works with insurance providers to negotiate the best possible arrangement for its members and local elected officials make decisions regarding their participation in these programs based on their individual circumstances.”

Currently, local elected officials can subscribe to UBCM’s health benefits; however, at least three members of each council or board must enroll within four months of an election to qualify. Individual communities then determine, if at all, how much of the expense taxpayers will cover, which in Summerland is 50 percent.

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