The Manitoba government's 2015 budget comes with some new and expanded tax credits, including an expanded school tax rebate for seniors and a new tax credit for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue personnel.
The province also says it will raise the minimum wage to $11 an hour this fall and create 900 childcare spaces.
Seniors' school tax rebate
The province had announced in March that the seniors' school tax rebate will go up from $235 to $470 for the 2015 property tax year.
As well, more homeowners will become eligible for the credit, as it will be expanded to include seniors who occupy their principal residence — even if they don't own the land or dwelling unit — and pay school taxes.
Expanding the rebate will cost the government $15.1 million this year.
As for the primary caregiver tax credit, which was introduced in 2009, it's going up by 10 per cent from a maximum annual amount of $1,275 to $1,400 starting this year.
The credit supports Manitobans who voluntarily care for loved ones needing assistance in their own homes. One volunteer caregiver can claim up to three people at one time for a potential maximum credit of $4,200 a year.
The increase means about $2.2 million in annual additional credits will be provided to more than 11,000 caregivers, according to the province.
Other tax credits being introduced or expanded in this budget include:
- New credits for volunteer firefighters and search and rescue volunteers. Starting this year, Manitobans who volunteer at least 200 hours a year can claim a 10.8 per cent non-refundable credit on an amount of $3,000. The maximum annual benefit is $324.
- The Manitoba film and video production tax credit will be extended by three years to the end of 2019. The credit, which was introduced in the 1997 budget, was originally slated to expire at the end of 2016.
- A new fuel tax rebate on regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights that depart from Manitoba and fly non-stop to destinations outside North America. The credit is expected to offer full-year tax savings of $50,000 to airlines.
Increased minimum wage and more
Other highlights from the 2015 budget include:
- Raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour in October.
- The creation of a youth jobs strategy that will support paid work and on-the-job training opportunities for young people.
- Colleges will receive a two per cent funding increase from the province, while universities will get a 2.5 per cent increase.
- Increasing the Rent Assist program to 75 per cent of the median market rent in order to help low-income families.
- Investing in 900 new childcare spaces as part of a five-year plan announced in 2014.
- Creating a $1-million fund for climate-change initiatives.
- Building a 10-bed health centre in Notre Dame de Lourdes and a new community clinic in Swan River. The province says it will also invest in an emergency department in Dauphin and the hospital in Selkirk.
- Opening new QuickCare clinics in Southdale and Seven Oaks, bringing the total number of clinics to seven.
- Creating a new child and youth mental health strategy.
The budget does come with some new or increased government fees, including higher application fees for landlord requests for certain rent increases or building rehabilitation, higher veterinary diagnostic testing fees, and higher designation and registration fees for international education providers.
And, of course, there's bad news for smokers: the tobacco tax is going up by half a cent per cigarette starting Friday, meaning a pack of 25 cigarettes will cost an extra 12.5 cents.
That increase will fund smoking cessation programs, which will see a $2-million boost this year, according to the province.
2015 Manitoba Budget Summary
2015 Manitoba Budget Summary (PDF KB)
2015 Manitoba Budget Summary (Text KB)
The 2015 Manitoba Budget Address
The 2015 Manitoba Budget Address (PDF KB)
The 2015 Manitoba Budget Address (Text KB)