The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba is once again misrepresenting the facts in order to score political points.
The latest example comes from Blaine Pederson, the critic for MAFRD (“NDP Gives Farmers Tax Pains,” Brandon Sun, May 27). For starters, pre-printed application forms for all landowners who had applied for a 2012 rebate were mailed in early October 2013, not December as Mr. Pederson contends. Blank application forms were available on MASC’s Internet site at the same time that the pre-printed applications were mailed.
Unlike the Opposition, this provincial government is committed to ensuring that rural school divisions don’t face funding cuts while also providing education property tax rebates to Manitobans. This year alone, our investment in education includes an additional $24.4 million for schools across the province.
The farmland school tax rebate was put in place by this NDP government in order to help Manitoba farm families, and since its inception has saved families a quarter of a billion dollars. It started in 2004 at a rate of 33 per cent, and we have since increased it to 80 per cent.
In order to ensure the rebate remains financially sustainable into the future, the province has put in place some reasonable measures. That includes limiting the rebate to only Manitoba residents, capping the annual rate and reducing the time to apply. For all their complaints about this popular tax incentive, it’s important to remember that when the PCs were in power, there was no farmland school tax rebate! The NDP, on the other hand, provides Manitobans with more than
$336 million in education property tax relief, something Mr. Pedersen conveniently ignores in his letter.
Since 2000, Manitoba has had the lowest property tax increase in Canada. Manitoba’s 9.2 per cent is modest compared to a 27 per cent increase in Saskatchewan, and a whopping 56 per cent increase in Alberta. Our government will remain focused on the basics — building core infrastructure and keeping frontline services, like health care and education, in place while building the rural economy. We are also committed to making sure that Manitoba remains one of the most affordable jurisdictions in Canada.
In his letter, Mr. Pederson provided his contact information. It is my suggestion that you contact him to ask for a description of his party’s plans for protecting rural schools and providing property tax rebates. Because from what we’ve seen, no such plan exists.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 29, 2014