Manitoba NDP floats idea of loans to help switch to electric vehicles

The Manitoba NDP pitched a plan to encourage people to ditch their fossil-fuel burning vehicles and switch to electric as part of their alternative throne speech released on Friday.

Plan outlined in alternative throne speech released Friday

Manitoba's opposition NDP released its alternative throne speech Friday, which includes a plan for zero-interest, government-backed loans for the purchase of electric vehicles. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The Manitoba NDP is pitching a plan to encourage people to ditch their fossil-fuel burning vehicles and switch to electric.

The plan was included in the opposition NDP's alternative throne speech, released Friday ahead of the Progressive Conservative government's throne speech, which Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon is expected to read on Tuesday.

The NDP plan includes a zero-interest, government-backed loan for the purchase of electric vehicles, which would be paid back over the life of the vehicle. Under the plan, the province would pool revenue from its upcoming carbon tax, which would then be doled out to Manitobans as repayable loans.

"We would take steps to ensure access to the program for lower- and middle-income Manitobans, northerners and those in rural areas," the alternative throne speech says.

The NDP alternative throne speech touts the benefits of electric vehicles as a way for Manitobans to save money and reduce carbon emissions, while also boosting Manitoba Hydro revenues through increased electricity consumption.

Municipalities would also be able to apply for the loans. The alternative throne speech slams the provincial government's carbon plan, which proposes replacing 100 city diesel buses with electric buses, but doesn't offer a way to pay for them.

Health care, jobs and tuition 

The alternative throne speech also took aim at the PC government's health-care changes, arguing that the closure of three emergency rooms in Winnipeg will lead to longer wait times due to a shortage of long-term care beds.

The NDP plan would add a number of long-term care beds and create an indigenous health act.

Rather than cutting, the NDP plan calls for preventative health measures like exercise programs for seniors, northern food supports, and injury reduction efforts.

It also calls for more investment in mental health services.

On jobs and the economy, the NDP alternative throne speech criticizes the government for not taking steps to prevent job losses in the north. It also says an NDP government would repeal Bill-31, which allows universities to raise tuition by five per cent plus the rate of inflation annually.