Since they’ve taken office, the Pallister government’s funding for our schools has declined when you take into account inflation and our rising student population. This decrease has caused schools to make hard decisions about what to cut. Any cut to education is a step in the wrong direction as it hurts our children and our province’s future, but this government doesn’t seem to care.
Rather than investing in the future of our children and their schools, the Pallister government is now looking to buy back its popularity through Bill 71, the “Education Property Tax Reduction Act”. This bill cuts property taxes in a way that prioritizes benefits for wealthy landlords and out-of-province corporations over the interests of everyday Manitobans. Small businesses who rent their businesses will see no benefit as landlords have no incentive or requirement to pass their savings along to renters.
One of the worst aspects of this bill is that renters will not get any of the benefits, despite the fact that they are among the hardest hit groups during the pandemic. Bill 71 decreases the $700 tax credit renters are entitled to by 25 per cent. To make matters worse, the Pallister government has announced that this tax credit will be phased out. Renters will actually lose money. It’s completely unfair that wealthy people like the premier should see a $4,000 break on their second residence while working people who rent see their benefits clawed back.
The Pallister government is being fiscally reckless. Out-of-province landlords are getting this benefit, as are wealthy people like the Premier who don’t need it. This bill will create a massive hole in Manitoba’s revenues. To me, that sounds like they don’t have a plan and given the massive cuts we’ve seen throughout this government’s time in office with bills like Bill 64 - the “Education Modernization Act” - we’re concerned that less revenue will translate into even more cuts to education.
To top it all off, the premier intends to send out rebate cheques with his own signature. Delivering such cheques cost us an additional $1.3 million. While Manitobans and my NDP colleagues have called for comprehensive supports, the PCs have done virtually nothing in response. They refused to spend money when our community and economy needed it most, but are now willing to invest in a scheme that will benefit themselves and their friends most while hurting the most vulnerable Manitobans.
If you’re concerned about Bill 71 or have any other questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out by phone at 204-687-3246 or email Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca