Manitoba’s NDP government delivers tax cuts, rebates in first budget

Wab Kinew delivered his first budget as premier, with a heavy focus on health care and affordability measures to combat the rising cost of living. Edward Djan has more.

By The Canadian Press

The Manitoba government is delivering on promised rebates and tax cuts in its spring budget, while also changing property taxes in a way that will see many homeowners and commercial property owners paying more.

The NDP government’s first budget since last October’s election, released Tuesday, extends the provincial fuel-tax holiday by three months.

The 14-cent-a-litre tax was suspended Jan. 1 and was to be reinstated July 1, but the government is extending the break until the end of September.

Finance Minister Adrien Sala’s budget also fulfils campaign promises to provide free prescription birth control, rebates of up to $4,000 on electric vehicles, $300 rebates on security cameras, and double the tax credit for fertility treatments.

“This is a plan to be able to make good on so many of the promises that we were elected by Manitobans to deliver on,” Premier Wab Kinew said.

The budget also contains a major reworking of the education tax on properties, which was not spelled out on the election campaign trail.

A new flat credit will replace the existing combination of credits and rebates, starting next year.

The change will see people with lower-value homes pay less and those with higher-value homes pay more. Many homeowners are looking at increases of hundreds of dollars.

Commercial property owners are losing their rebates and will not get the tax credit offered to homeowners. Overall, the property tax changes will raise provincial revenues by $148 million dollars annually.

There is also a change to income taxes that will see people with net income above $200,000 paying more through a clawback on the basic personal exemption.

The province is adding a tax on vaping products to match an existing federal levy.

The budget sets aside money for a supervised consumption site in Winnipeg, which would be the first in the province and would open next year.

There is also $500,000 to start an inquiry into cost overruns at the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters and other money for a review of the previous Progressive Conservative government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We absolutely need to go through a thorough exercise of asking what happened, what worked, what didn’t, (and) what should we do better next time,” Kinew said.

The budget forecasts a deficit of $796 million, down from almost $2 billion last year.

Manitoba has run deficits in every year but two since 2009, and the government’s net debt is forecast to climb this year to $35 billion.

Overall highlights from the provincial budget:

  • Provincial fuel-tax holiday extended by three months to Sept. 30.
  • Rebates of up to $4,000 on electric vehicles, and $300 rebates for security cameras.
  • Tax credit for renters raised by $50 to $575.
  • Tax credit for fertility treatment doubled, and free prescription birth control.
  • Education taxes on property sees owners of lower-value homes pay less and those with higher-value homes and commercial properties pay more.
  • Basic personal income tax deduction reduced for people with a net income of more than $200,000.
  • New tax on vape products, matching a federal levy.
  • Money set aside to establish a supervised consumption site in Winnipeg.
  • Money to review the province’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and for a full inquiry into cost overruns at Winnipeg police headquarters.
  • Projected deficit of $796 million on total spending of $24.1 billion.

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