With Manitoba’s provincial budget set to be released on Wednesday afternoon, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) had some harsh words for Premier Brian Pallister and his Progressive Conservative government’s financial plans to date.
CTF spokesman Franco Terrazzano told 680 CJOB that Pallister is “trying to sell Manitobans some magic beans” when it comes to the provincial government’s green levy — a flat $25-per-tonne carbon tax.
The green levy was announced last week, along with a plan to reduce provincial sales tax (PST) to six per cent.
“It’s good to see the sales tax going down… but the issue with the whole sales tax is that it’s being paired with that carbon tax hit,” said Terrazzano.
“It’s good to take a little bit less money from our left pocket, but what we don’t want to see then is the government to take more money from our right pocket.
“Pallister is, predictably, running the bait and switch by claiming that his carbon tax will be painlessly paired with the PST cut.”
The green levy, said Terrazzano, is also an example of Pallister breaking an election promise.
“The Progressive Conservatives, right before the election, they launched a petition, and it had a clear message right on the page: ‘no carbon tax in Manitoba, sign if you agree.'”
Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding told 680 CJOB the government’s goal with the budget is to make things easier for people in the province.
“We’re trying to make life more affordable for Manitobans,” said Fielding.
“We think we’ve got some credibility on this because of our reductions on the PST — we think that’s going to make a difference.”
The province announced earlier this month that the provincial deficit was smaller than budgeted.
“I would say that we’re ahead of our plan to balance our budget,” said Fielding. “We’re ahead of our schedule. I think you’ll see elements of that making really good progress on debt reduction.
“I’ve been involved in eight budgets in my time in city as well as provincial politics. There’s always things that come up. You need to prepared, and that’s really what this budget does.”
Fielding said the 2020 budget is the most emergency-prepared budget in Manitoba’s history.
“We replenished the rainy day fund,” he said.
“That was depleted in the former government. We put more money in — over $400 million last year. We’re prepared and we have a plan if the economy does turn.”
The provincial budget is expected to be released Wednesday afternoon. Stay tuned to 680 CJOB and Global News for full coverage.