Most Manitobans want lower PST, finds Vote Compass

The majority of Manitobans would like government to lower the provincial sales tax (PST) suggests new data from Vote Compass.

59% of Manitobans want the PST to be much lower or somewhat lower

New data from Vote Compass shows most Manitobans support lowering the provincial sales tax. (CBC)

The majority of Manitobans would like government to lower the provincial sales tax (PST) suggests new data from Vote Compass.

The findings are based on 7,411 respondents who participated in the online election engagement tool, Vote Compass, from March 15 to March 24. Results have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample of the population, said developer Vox Pop Labs.

Analysis of Vote Compass results show 20 per cent of Manitobans believe the PST should be much lower while 39 per cent said the tax should be somewhat lower. Alternatively, 35 per cent said the PST should remain about the same as now and 3 per cent said it should be somewhat higher.

Currently, the PST in Manitoba stands at 8 per cent. In 2013 the governing NDP increased the sales tax from 7 per cent leading to a slump in support for the party in polls and a revolt of five NDP cabinet ministers

Earlier this month, the Progressive Conservatives promised to roll back the tax to 7 per cent if elected. PC Leader Brian Pallister said he would not rule out making up for the $300 million in lost revenue by raising other taxes.

Vote Compass data show 80 per cent of Tories supporters want the PST to be lower while 54 per cent of Manitoba Liberal supporters want it reduced. Among the NDP and Green supporters, only 30 and 39 per cent, respectively, want the tax lowered.

Manitobans want a say either way

Vote Compass shows a majority of Manitobans, 65 per cent, want a referendum should the government decide to change the provincial sales tax—regardless of whether it's a question of increasing or decreasing the PST.

Winnipeg voter Hank Bergen said it's important government give Manitobans a chance to "sound off" before raising or lowering the PST. Bergen supports raising the PST even higher to pay for infrastructure improvements.

"I'd like to see it raised, we need to get started on some of the work around town,"  he said.

Bobbie Holland, another voter in Winnipeg, agreed there should "absolutely" be a referendum if the government decides to change the PST.

"To get the people's voices, I think we all need to be involved in what the government's doing," she said. "A little raise is okay, as long as we're asked about it."

When it comes to spurring the economy, an almost even split of Manitobans viewed cutting taxes was or was not a way to create jobs. 37 per cent either strongly or somewhat disagree cutting taxes is the best way to create jobs, where 39 per cent agree, both somewhat or strongly, cutting taxes is the best way to create jobs. 21 per cent were neutral on the subject.

Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Canada exclusively by CBC News. The findings are based on 3,029 respondents who participated in Vote Compass from March 15 to March 21, 2016.

Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted in order to approximate a representative sample. Vote Compass data have been weighted by geography, gender, age, educational attainment, occupation, and religion to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Manitoba according to census data and other population estimates.

With files from Courtney Rutherford

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