Yesterday morning, the federal government made good on a 2013 promise to renew the federal gas tax funding agreement with Manitoba.
Federal Heritage Minister Shelly Glover announced that Ottawa will guarantee Manitoba municipalities will receive $713 million over the next 10 years — the province’s share of federal gas-tax revenue.
For the current fiscal year, 2014, that means Manitoba municipalities will receive a total of $65 million, with each municipality determining how their share of the money will be spent.
Breaking that down even further, Winnipeg will receive approximately $40.5 million, and Brandon is slated to receive $2.65 million — $2,265,632 used by the City of Brandon, with a further $385,200 earmarked specifically for Brandon Transit.
The rest of the federal gas tax — approximately $21,849,168 — gets divvied up by the rest of the municipalities in the province.
If we delve into those numbers a little further, we suggest that rural Manitobans may not like what they see. Based on the most recent population numbers released by Statistics Canada in 2011, it would seem that not only does Winnipeg get the lion’s share of the gas tax, it also gets a larger percentage per capita.
For example, in 2011, Brandon’s population was listed at 46,061, Winnipeg’s at 663,617, with the rest of the province at 498,590 — about 1,208,286 souls all told.
Based on those populations numbers, though admittedly outdated by three years, we can at least get a general sense of the percentage split of the gas tax between the three.
The $40.5 million for Winnipeg works out to about $61 per Winnipegger. Per Brandonite that works out to $57. And for the rest of the province, outside of the two major urban centres, that equals $43.82 per person.
Now the difference of four dollars may not sound like much per person, but multiplied out, Brandon will lose out on more than $184,000 than if we had a similar per capita to Winnipeg. Using the same comparison, the remaining municipalities outside of Winnipeg and Brandon lose out on much more, more than $17 per person, or more than $8.5 million.
We’ve made these arguments before, in that Winnipeg tends to get a larger share of federal or provincial funding than the rest of the province, whether it comes to money spent on construction projects — think leaking Keystone Centre roof versus a brand new football stadium in Winnipeg — or that Manitoba’s largest city is favoured with government-run casinos that ‘aren’t really casinos,’ because they’re gaming centres.
We’re not really complaining too loudly on this one though. Having federal gas tax money is better than no gas tax money for municipal projects outside Winnipeg, and we’re glad to see that the federal government has renewed this program for a full decade. And if the federal government holds to their promise back in 2013, they are committed to indexing the gas tax at two per cent per year which means Brandon’s portion will increase year over year.
But the uneven portion of cash accessed by rural municipalities is just one of the ongoing annoying little details that irks those of us who don’t happen to live within the Perimeter Highway.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 3, 2014