Your May 15 issue contained a letter to the editor from Cameron Friesen, Progressive Conservative MLA for Morden-Winkler, entitled “NDP Declares Open Season On Taxpayers.”
So here we go again likely with another continuing series of letters from Conservative MLAs, many of them likely written by caucus staff members, criticizing Manitoba’s tax situation and calling for cuts and more cuts.
While there have been some tax relief measures introduced by the Selinger government, these are usually ignored. A case in point is a new seniors school tax rebate which starts this year with up to $235 being made available in addition to the $700 education property tax credit and up to a $400 top-up. The rebate will increase in 2015 and by 2016 will fully cover school taxes for seniors. The government wants to allow seniors to afford to stay in their own homes longer as property values and property taxes increase.
And while the PST has been increased to eight per cent, we should note that nearly three-quarters of the Canadian population pay eight per cent or higher. In fact, people in Quebec pay 9.975 per cent while those in P.E.I. pay nine per cent and in Nova Scotia, they pay 10 per cent.
I should mention incidentally that there are some new spending initiatives to enhance our health-care system. The government is continuing to hire more health nurses, reaching a high of nearly 18,000 now and being more than 3,700 than when it took office. Last month, the nurses union signed a four-year contract supported by 91 per cent of its members not only for wage increases but for measures to support patient care and workload.
Also, the government is now launching a new five-year plan to create more high quality child care spaces. There will be 5,000 more child care spaces created with 20 new or expanded child care centres. Since being elected in 1999, the NDP government has tripled the annual funding for child care and has been able to increase the number of spaces by more than 80 per cent. The rates are the most affordable in Canada outside of Quebec. The government also provided for generous wage increases for the workers and established a pension plan.
However, the fact remains that we cannot have the services we require without providing the needed revenue. Certainly the government should spend with care and reasonableness.