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Manitoba election: NDP fiscal plan includes balanced budget, no tax increase

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Manitoba election: NDP fiscal plan includes balanced budget, no tax increase
Manitoba’s NDP party say they will balance the budget in their first term, not raise the provincial sales tax and keep the 50 per cent education property tax rebate in place if their party forms the government after the Oct. 3 election. Rosanna Hempel reports – Aug 9, 2023

Manitoba’s NDP party say they will balance the budget in their first term, not raise the provincial sales tax and keep the 50 per cent education property tax rebate in place if their party forms the government after the Oct. 3 election.

NDP Opposition leader Wab Kinew said the New Democrats will ensure their fiscal house is in order.

“The economic horse pulls the provincial cart,” Kinew said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

The Progressive Conservatives plan to balance the budget by the 2028 fiscal year, with a projected deficit of 378 million dollars in the third quarter of this year.

Kinew said he’s been consistent on the issue of the provincial sales tax, adding he criticized former NDP leader Greg Selinger when the previous New Democrat government raised the tax by one point to eight per cent in 2013.

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“The PST may be an issue for the PCs in their desperate bid to try and hang on to power here in Manitoba but I think Manitobans know we need better leadership,” Kinew said.

Christopher Adams, adjunct professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said the NDP leader is showing himself similar to former NDP Premier Gary Doer when he ran against Tory leader Gary Filmon in 1999.

Adams said the fall election will be a battleground between the two parties for swing votes.

“There’s that sweet spot of middle-class voters that go back and forth … these sorts of announcements today are trying to get those swing voters to feel comfortable with voting for the NDP again,” Adams said.

The professor said Tory spending has ramped up since Premier Heather Stefanson’s early days in office and previous Premier Brian Pallister’s mandate.

The current government made $95 million worth of new spending commitments on the day before a pre-election blackout on new policy and funding announcements came into effect.

“It indicates the PCs are pulling up all the stops in order to get elected and it’s not unlike the final days of the NDPs, the announcements were really fast and furious … back in 2016, but this exceeds that,” he said.

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Finance Minister Cliff Cullen criticized Kinew’s plan, saying it’s no different than what the PCs have already put into action.

“It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad because a few months ago when the NDP had a chance to join us in helping Manitobans they voted against you,” he said during a virtual press conference responding to the plan, referring to the NDPs voting down the 2023 budget in May.

Manitoba Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont agreed with Cullen’s sentiment, adding what the opposing parties lack is what his party will announce in the coming weeks.

“We need to reinvest in health care, education and roads,” he told Global News.

Speaking to reporters, Kinew said any other government trying to return the books to balance later than 2027 is short-changing Manitobans.

“Because if the provincial government doesn’t balance the books then we’re always going to have to go to those hard-working people in scrubs and hi-vis gear and ask them for more and more.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba PC’s election year funding announcements ‘dumbfounding’ but nothing new: professor'
Manitoba PC’s election year funding announcements ‘dumbfounding’ but nothing new: professor

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