High-income tax hike, controlled spending part of Manitoba NDP campaign plan

Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew released the party's election platform Thursday. Marek Tkach / Global News

Manitoba New Democrats are promising to raise income taxes on high earners, boost the minimum wage and implement modest health-care spending increases if they win the Sept. 10 provincial election.

The Opposition party released broad strokes of its campaign platform Thursday, with a promise to reveal details later. The document includes plans for a higher tax rate on people earning more than $250,000 a year.

“I feel like if you earn a quarter of a million dollars a year in Manitoba, you didn’t do that by yourself. You benefited from having infrastructure, from health care,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“And I think that you should feel good about contributing back to ensuring that the next generation has a strong health-care system, has the infrastructure that they need to grow the economy in the future.”

READ MORE: Manitoba Election 2019 Promise Tracker: Where do the parties stand on the major issues?

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Kinew said the NDP looked at raising corporate income tax as well, but decided against it in order to remain competitive with other provinces. Instead, the platform promises a tax cut for small businesses. The threshold at which they start to pay income tax would rise to $550,000 from $500,000.

The 17-page platform promises to boost the minimum wage to $15 an hour from the current $11.35, and to implement an unspecified price on carbon. The Progressive Conservative government withdrew a planned $25-per-tonne tax, prompting the federal government to impose its tax that will rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.

Much of the NDP’s focus will be on health care. The platform pledges to reopen two hospital emergency departments that the Tories recently closed in Winnipeg. A NDP government would also hire more nurses, fund more hospital beds and increase spending on addiction treatment and health prevention, Kinew said.

The NDP said the health-care changes would cost between $30 million and $43 million a year, an increase in the health budget of less than one per cent.

READ MORE: Manitoba NDP leader centre stage during election ramp up

The NDP would also lift a public-sector wage freeze that the government imposed, although the platform does not include any cost for that measure.

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Kinew said the NDP would balance the budget by 2024 — the same time frame promised by the Tories — while also raising welfare rates, boosting funding for municipal transit and limiting post-secondary tuition increases.

Recent opinion polls suggest the Tories continue to lead their opponents province-wide, but the race is tighter in Winnipeg, where health-care changes have been more pronounced.

Premier Brian Pallister has yet to formally launch the election campaign and must do so by Tuesday under provincial law.

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