A recent media report once again showed that Manitoba, compared to most other provinces, isn’t getting bang for the bucks that taxpayers are putting in. Despite being one of the greatest net receivers of equalization benefits, Manitoba remains one of the highest taxed jurisdictions in Canada. In 2010-2011 more than a billion net dollars came to Manitoba in equalization payments (essentially money from richer provinces). That does not include the billions that come to the province in transfer payments from Ottawa to pay for things such as healthcare.
Yet despite the financial support from Ottawa and from richer provinces like Alberta and even Saskatchewan, the NDP government continues to tax more and more money from Manitobans. That was never more apparent than last spring when new taxes, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, were added by the Greg Selinger NDP government. Taxes were added to a number of different products and services including home insurance. Many local residents have contacted me concerned about that 7% increase they have seen on their insurance bill.
The biggest question is what are we gaining for all of the money that is coming from Ottawa, other provinces and from Manitoba taxpayers? Are services significantly better? Are the roads that much improved? Is Manitoba a safer place? Those are the questions Manitobans have a right to ask and, increasingly, they are questions that the provinces that are contributing money to Manitoba may also begin to ask. As has been stated recently, the problem isn’t really that Manitoba is a ‘have-not’ province. The problem is we currently have a ‘have-not’ government.