Selinger defends PST hike amid opposition
Manitoba premier says funds raised from tax increase will go to infrastructure
A number of groups are upset over plans to increase the provincial sales tax to eight per cent in Manitoba.
Tuesday’s release of the 2013 budget showed the government’s plans to increase the PST from seven per cent to eight per cent beginning July 1, a move that Premier Greg Selinger said was necessary in order to increase funding for infrastructure.
"They needed better roads. They said they needed personal care homes. They said they needed new schools for the young population, and in the Assiniboine Valley they said they needed permanent flood protection," Selinger said. "Those are expensive bills. "
Finance Minister Stan Struthers had said Tuesday that all the money raised from the tax hike will go to infrastructure spending.
But Lanny McInnes of the Retail Council of Canada said the PST hike is going to hurt Manitoba business owners.
"This government was elected on a promise not to raise taxes in 2011. They’ve broken that promise," said McInnes.
"Not only have they broken that promise, they’ve robbed Manitobans of the ability to make that choice."
Struthers said Tuesday he would amend existing legislation that requires the government to hold a referendum before raising taxes.
McInnes said he is now worried the increase could send more Manitoban shoppers over the border or to online retailers.
"It increases the cost of goods that are going on the shelves. You’re going to see that impact is not going to be a positive one," he added.
McInnes isn't the only one upset over the change.
Opposition has cropped up on social media sites like Facebook. A group called "No PST hike: Tell Manitoba NDP you still believe in democracy had about 100 members Wednesday.
Seligner assured that people will get their chance to speak against the tax hike when the legislation is debated.
He also added that a certain level of transparency will be legislated so that people can see where their money is going.
"[It’s] always difficult to raise a tax to generate additional revenue, that’s why we’re going to have special legislation that shows exactly where the money goes to protect communities that are at risk of floods, [to] build roads…," he said.