Mr. Brian Pallister (Leader of the Official Opposition): The effects of this government’s unnecessary and immoral tax hikes continue to be felt profoundly by Manitoba working families.
Over the last two years that we have data, we know that wage growth has been very slow, ninth in Canada, just ahead of New Brunswick.
Comparing the two most recent complete years for which we have data, the average working Manitoban only makes $4.90 more per week, and that hardly covers the additional taxes this government has thrown atManitoba families.
Meanwhile, the average Saskatchewan worker, Mr. Speaker, in that same time period, makes over five times as much more money, $28.23 more.
I’d ask the premier to admit that his broken-promise tax hikes are hurting Manitoba working families.
Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): Mr. Speaker, we’re pleased that our jobs program means 58,900 jobs will be created in the province of Manitoba, and we’re very pleased that more Manitobans will be working.
But to correct the record, according to Statistics Canada, average weekly earnings in Manitoba increased in February 4.4 per cent over a year ago, the largest increase of any province and double the national average.
Mr. Pallister: Well, that’s selective citing of one year’s snapshot. I just quoted the average over two, but let’s take a look at over four years, then.
And perhaps the premier and his colleagues need to understand that working families don’t just work for 12 months. They’ve been working hard and harder under this government for a long time and falling further behind other provinces as a result.
The premier sings the same song all the time, but there’s always banjo music in the background, Mr. Speaker, because Saskatchewan continues to make progress while we fall further behind.
Forexample, since the member for St. Boniface became premier, over a four-year period, our growth in average weekly wages is less than half that of workers in Saskatchewan, and citing one year’s statistics doesn’t change the fact that Manitoba working families are working harder for less.
Now, the premier promised not to raise taxes and did. Will he at least promise working families that he won’t do it again?
Mr. Selinger: What we say is our program, a five-year investment in infrastructure, five and a half billion dollars, $6.3-billion lift in the economy, every dollar invested will generate $1.16 of economic activity in the province, 58,900 jobs.
The difference between our plan and their plan: our plan, Manitobans will be working; their plan, layoffs, people being fired and people leaving the province of Manitoba.
Mr. Pallister: Well, speaking of people leaving the province, we’ve had a net loss to Saskatchewan of 1,277 Manitobans; 1,277 Manitobans have left this province and moved to Saskatchewan while this premier’s been in charge.
We also start taxing Manitoba families the earliest of any province west of New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker. Seniors, working families pay taxes at a level that’s about half that of Saskatchewan, so that when a Manitoba family makes $9,000 they begin to be taxed, but a Saskatchewan family can make $6,000 more per year without being taxed.
Now, the thing with the premier’s plan is it’s incumbent on people working harder for less money.
Mr. Speaker, would the premier realize that $6,000 a year does buy a really good banjo, and the reality is that his plan is putting more Bomber fans in Regina stands every year?
Mr. Selinger: We have one of the best stadiums inthe country. Mr. Speaker, Bomber fans and Saskatchewan fans — Saskatchewan and Bomber fans are coming here in droves.
And the reality is this: When we look at the cost of living, the affordability advantage in Manitoba, a family of four — earning two incomes at $70,000, lowest cost of living in Canada.
And I want to thank the Leader of the Opposition for importing more people back to Manitoba from Alberta to work here in Manitoba.
» From Wednesday, April 30