Manitoba sending second round of cheques to help with inflation

The Manitoba government is providing financial aid to help with the rising cost of living, but critics say it doesn’t go far enough. Alex Karpa reports.

By The Canadian Press and CityNews Staff

The Manitoba government is issuing a second round of cheques to help people deal with inflation.

Everyone with a net family income of less than $175,000 last year will be eligible, Premier Heather Stefanson said in a release Thursday announcing details of the Carbon Tax Relief Fund.

Single people are to get $225 and couples will receive $375.

“Last fall, we pledged to continue to help Manitobans as help was needed,” said Stefanson.

“Given the cost shock Manitobans are facing this winter from the federal carbon tax and other related increases, we believe Manitobans need our support again now.”

The Opposition New Democrats say the Progressive Conservative government is trying to buy votes in advance of an election slated for Oct. 3.

The government sent out a first round of cheques last fall that was limited to low-income seniors and families with children under 18.

“Many Manitobans, we’ve heard loud and clear, are struggling to make ends meet, so this is something that is a short-term relief package for them to be able to help them make ends meet when they’re having a difficult time right now.”

The cost of the new program is $200 million – more than double that of the first round.

“Our initial affordability package focused on helping families with children address back-to-school costs and seniors with fixed or low incomes address inflation-related challenges,” said Stefanson.

“Our new Carbon Tax Relief Fund will broaden access to support almost every Manitoban who has to drive to work, take their kids to activities or go out to buy groceries.”

Manitoba’s Leader of Opposition Wab Kinew says it shouldn’t be a one-time payment, but continuous help for recurring costs, like hydro, on a monthly basis.

“I think for most people who are getting worn down by the cost-of-living month after month, we are here in January, what are you going to do in February, March, April and so on? People are stressed out; people are feeling worn down,” said Kinew.

Similar funding has been announced by provincial governments across the country. In Alberta, households with a yearly income of less than $180,000 are eligible for six $100 affordability payments for each senior and child under the age of 18.

Roughly 85 per cent of all British Columbians will automatically receive a full or reduced affordability credit through the CRA, it will provide $164 per adult and $41 per child.

Fletcher Baragar says other provinces have targeted certain SEGMENTS of the population with their funding, but Manitoba is taking a broader approach.

“It’s less of an economic and assistance measure then to some extent, what might be seen as a popular political one,” said Fletcher Baragar, associate professor at the University of Manitoba.

Manitoba’s provincial election is set for October. Baragar says he is not surprised by this announcement with the election approaching. He says a more targeted approach with the money would have been a better option.

“Perhaps a bigger payout to a smaller number of people, obviously that is a different priority, but I think that would have a more direct impact on those that really need it and are really feeling the crunch these days.”

-With files from Alex Karpa, CityNews

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