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Politics

PC Party of Manitoba pledges to phase out education property taxes

Manitoba PC leader and premier Brian Pallister speaks during a press conference at a medical clinic in Winnipeg, Monday, August 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods.
Manitoba PC leader and premier Brian Pallister speaks during a press conference at a medical clinic in Winnipeg, Monday, August 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods.

Brian Pallister says his party intends to phase out education property taxes if the PC Party of Manitoba is elected next week.

“Manitoba has one of the most complicated and uneven education property tax regimes in the country,” said Pallister in a release. “Education property taxes will be phased out – saving homeowners thousands of dollars each year on their property tax bill when fully implemented.”

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The average household would see about $2,000 in savings, he said.

Pallister made the announcement as he released his party’s full platform Tuesday, which includes tax rollbacks, a promise of $2 billion in health care funding, 20 new schools and an ambitious plan to grow the economy by 40,000 full time jobs.

Keystone Agricultural Producers, who have been lobbying the province for changes to the education tax system, said they were cautiously optimistic, but questions remained.

“We’re encouraged to see that the PC Party of Manitoba has committed to begin a process to remove the education tax on property, which is a policy for which farmers and producers have advocated for quite some time,” KAP President Bill Campbell said.

“However, KAP also believes that the next provincial government needs to take steps to ensure that rural and urban students continue to have equitable access to educational opportunities, and that this move doesn’t represent a long-term cut to the education system.”

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CUPE Manitoba also asked where the money would come from to fund the education system.

“Over the past number of years, the provincial share of funding for schools has decreased, leaving local school boards to pick up the tab through property taxes,” they said in a press release.

“Without a clear commitment by the PCs to maintain and increase existing funding levels for our schools, this announcement smells like a cut to our education system.”

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Some social media reaction:

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The Tories are pegging the cost of their new election promises at more than $850 million.

They say the money would be found through a 15 per cent reduction in senior government management, other savings and investment in a fund to encourage ideas to make the civil service more efficient.

-With files from the Canadian Press