Last week our government tabled the 2019-2020 budget for the province. While there were many important parts of the budget that deserve to be highlighted, no doubt the one that has garnered the most attention is the announcement that we will lower the provincial sales tax from 8% to 7% on July 1, 2019.
The tax will be lowered exactly six years to the day after the former NDP government raised it. The reduction of the PST is important for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it will leave more money in the pockets of Manitobans virtually every time they make a purchase. Manitobans are among the highest taxed Canadians. For too many years under the NDP government taxes just kept going up.
The reduction of the PST will save the average Manitoba household about $500 over the course of a full year. For many families this will be welcomed tax relief and a sign that the days of perpetually higher taxes from the provincial government are over.
As well, it is important because it fulfills a promise that we made to Manitobans. In 2013 the NDP raised the PST after promising Manitobans during the election that they would not. And they did so without having a referendum, something that was required under provincial law. Progressive Conservative MLA’s did all that we could at that time to get the NDP to keep their word and not raise the PST without a referendum. Despite sitting through the summer that year in the Legislature, the NDP raised the tax and refused to listen to Manitobans. Many Manitobans were disappointed not simply because they would be paying more, but because their government had broken its word.
At that time, we promised Manitobans that if we were fortunate enough to form government in the next election we would lower the PST in our first term. This budget fulfills that promise and hopefully restores some of the trust in government that Manitobans lost when the PST was raised without their consent.
In addition, the budget shows that we continue to make good progress in reducing the provincial deficit. Had the NDP remained in government it was projected that the deficit this year would have been more than $1.5 billion. Our budget shows that we are ahead of schedule reducing that deficit with it being forecast to be $360 million, which is $161 million less than the current fiscal year. While the NDP were in government taxes and the deficit were going up. Today taxes are going down and the deficit is going down as well. And, we are on track to balance our budget as promised.
In addition, we are still investing in projects that matter most to Manitobans. I was especially pleased that Budget 2019 cited the new personal care home beds that are coming to Steinbach and the expansion of the Mitchell Elementary School. Budget 2019 is reducing the deficit, reducing taxes and building the things that matter most to us.