PST opponents unite to protest tax hike

A number of groups have written to Manitoba premier Greg Selinger to protest the NDP's planned increase in the PST.

Groups vow critics will line up to speak against bill 20

Hundreds of people rallied May 2 at the Manitoba legislature to protest the NDP government's planned hike in the PST. (CBC)

A number of groups representing Manitoba businesses, restaurants and farmers, are banding together to tell the NDP government to reverse its intention to hike the PST. They've written a letter to premier Greg Selinger, reminding him he vowed in the 2011 election campaign he would not raise taxes.

Janine Carmichael, Manitoba director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said it should not be easy for him to break that promise.

"Breaking (an) election promise, and really the complete gutting now of taxpayer protection legislation which would have required a referendum, that should be difficult," she said. "There should be a political price for governments doing that."

Carmichael said 230 CFIB members have submitted written opposition to the tax hike, in addition to 204 Manitobans registered to speak at committee hearings at the Manitoba legislature on bill 20 in the coming weeks. A date for that has not been set. Those hearings can only be held after second reading of the bill, which has been delayed due to stalling tactics by the opposition Progressive Conservatives who oppose the bill. 

Rolf Penner, Manitoba vice president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association which has also signed the letter, said the tax hike will hit farmers hard, both directly and indirectly.

"It hits us in a number of different ways," he said.

"Whether it's shop supplies, fuel tanks, grease ... and there's a lot of items with the people that we do business with, where their prices are going up because of the increase in taxes."

Penner said the tax increase would come on top of taxes farmers have long felt were unfair: school taxes, which hit farmers disproportionally harder because they own more land.

"We feel that we're already paying more than our fair share of taxes as it is," Penner said. "This is just one more increase that we don't think is necessary."

Dwayne Marling, Manitoba-Saskatchewan vice president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, another group opposing the PST hike, said he's not overly optimistic the letter will succeed in getting the government to reverse course.

"With a government that's shown a fair lack of interest in the feedback from the public on this issue, I'm not going to hold my breath on it," he said.

"However I'm always hopeful that they may see the light and understand the tremendous negative impacts that this is going to have on many sectors of the economy and the general public."

The groups are:

  • Canadian Taxpayers Federation
  • Canadian Federation of Independent Business
  • Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association
  • Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association
  • Mining Association of Manitoba
  • Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association