View From the Legislature

Affordability Remains Top Concern

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

This past week Statistics Canada reported that Canada’s inflation rate for July was at a stubbornly high 3.3 per cent. That report will heighten the concern that many Canadians have regarding affordability and the Bank of Canada’s benchmark bank rate which has already reached a 22 year high of 5.0%.

The cost of things that people need the most, such as food, fuel, and housing, continue to increase at a rate that is putting significant pressure on Canadians. While some of the drivers of inflation are beyond the control of the federal government, such as the war in Ukraine and some supply chain issues, there are things that can be done to ease the pressure on Canadians.

It’s no coincidence that the Liberal carbon tax increased on July 1st and that a significant contributor to inflation last month was gas prices. The carbon tax is also closely tied to the increase in costs to food and other consumer goods as it puts upward pressure on all the goods people purchase.

In Manitoba, there have been several efforts targeted at providing both short-term and long-term relief for families feeling the financial crunch. Included in these were carbon tax relief cheques issued earlier this year. This was followed up with one of the largest increases to the Basic Personal Exemption (the amount of money people can earn before being taxed), which came into effect on July 1st. This provided immediate tax relief to Manitobans. While the raising of the Basic Personal Exemption was helpful to families, the same day it became effective the Liberal government raised the carbon tax.

Additionally, throughout the summer and into the fall, depending on when Manitobans pay their municipal property taxes, they will receive a rebate of 50% of their education property taxes. This provides real and immediate relief for many Manitobans.

The combination of tax measures resulted in Manitoba having one of the earliest tax freedom days in Canada this year. That is the day that is calculated by tax watchdog groups as the day that workers have earned enough to pay for the tax government levies for that year.

Provincial tax relief is not enough to lift the burden of high inflation. But it is still an important part of providing relief to Manitobans. And while it is important for the federal Liberal government to work nationally to ease inflation, the Manitoba PC government will continue to both look for ways to help families while pushing the Liberal government to stop punishing Canadians with their tax policies. And because both the NDP and Liberals in Manitoba voted against budget measures to reduce taxes, we need to ensure they are reminded of the importance of this relief for Manitobans.

As Canadians continue to face upward pressure on the cost of the things they buy and on the money they borrow, they need government to work to relieve these pressures. Manitoba Progressive Conservatives remain committed to that work.