Manitobans who are angry with a proposed increase to the provincial sales tax rallied outside the provincial legislature on Thursday evening.

Several hundred people gathered at the supper-hour protest, which was organized by business and taxpayer lobby groups.

"I think the message is pretty clear that Manitobans need to continue to speak out [and] send a strong message that raising the PST is just not acceptable," Colin Craig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said at the rally.

Opposition politicians, including Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister and Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, also spoke at the event.

Organizers of the protest said they were told Premier Greg Selinger would not be there due to a prior engagement.

Selinger's NDP government plans to raise the PST from seven to eight per cent starting July 1 to cover infrastructure and flood costs.

Many opponents of the tax hike are also angry with the government's plan to change Manitoba's balanced-budget legislation so that a referendum would not have to be held.

Pallister has been calling on the government to hold a referendum on raising the PST.

Among the groups that oppose the PST increase are the Canadian Federation for Independent Business and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

"This is a province that continues to have a spending problem, not a resource problem," said Dwayne Marling, a spokesman for the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Marling said the tax increase, announced in the spring budget, comes on top of increases to Manitoba's liquor prices.

"I thought, 'What more could they possibly do?' We're already faced with, just prior to the budget, a significant increase in liquor markups. And this was sort of the piling on," he said.

Marling said the tax increase will stifle job creation, especially for entrepreneurs.