In his letter to the editor in the Brandon Sun of June 21, 2014, entitled “PST Hike Has Hurt Manitoba,” Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister makes a number of criticisms of the economic situation in the province which are simply not correct.
He states: “When it comes to average wage growth and job growth, we are at the bottom of the barrel.” However, according to latest official data from Statistics Canada Manitoba’s average weekly earnings in the first three months of 2014, were up 3.5 per cent being the third highest among the provinces and above the Canadian average of 2.8 per cent.
If we simply compared March 2014 with March 2013, we see Manitoba at 3.3 per cent being above the Canadian average of 3.1 per cent and, incidentally, above the Saskatchewan average of 1.5 per cent. Our growth in employment between April and May, 2014 was 0.1 per cent, the same as the Canadian average and above six other provinces.
Our unemployment level in May 2014 was 5.5 per cent, below seven other provinces and below the Canadian average of 7.0 per cent.
Mr. Pallister goes on to say that NDP tax and fee hikes have caused our inflation to be the highest in the country year over year in May. However, official data show Ontario’s rate higher and Quebec being at the same level.
Mr. Pallister refers to the loss of population through interprovincial migration, but this has been offset by a flow of immigrants so that the population actually increased in 2013 by 1.1 per cent bringing our total population to its highest ever level of 1,027,000. Incidentally, several other provinces have lost people through interprovincial migration in the past.
Although he does not mention it, our retail sales increased by 3.9 per cent being above the Canadian average of 3.8 per cent in the first three months of 2014.
So the one cent increase in the PST has done virtually no damage to the Manitoba economy as Mr. Pallister would want you to believe. On the contrary, as both the Conference Board in Canada and the RBC have recently forecast, Manitoba will experience a 2.1 per cent increase in its gross domestic product in 2014 ranking it fourth among the provinces in economic growth.