A few weeks ago, a report issued by the Canadian Payroll Association suggested that fewer Manitobans are living paycheque to paycheque.
As the Winnipeg Free Press reported, 42 per cent of the employed Manitobans who responded to the online survey said they live paycheque to paycheque, down from 53 per cent in 2012.
That rate was one of the lowest in the country — second only to Quebec’s 24 per cent — and apparently matched the national average.
At the same time, Manitoba also boasted the highest number of employees trying to save more money, at 77 per cent — up from 68 per cent the year before. And only 37 per cent of Manitobans said they save less than six per cent of their pay, the second-lowest rate in the country.
Does this mean Manitobans are becoming thriftier? Apparently not.
For the same report suggests that the province has one of the highest rates of people who are spending all or more than their net pay, at 47 per cent — seven points higher than the national average. The only region with a higher rate was Atlantic Canada at 53 per cent.
This information becomes particularly relevant this month, just as the Manitoba government has announced that the province’s minimum wage will go up 20 cents, to $10.45 an hour, as of today.
With this increase, Manitoba’s minimum wage is the third highest in Canada. Only the Yukon ($10.54) and Nunavut ($11) are higher.
Unfortunately, when governments increase the minimum wage, they do so on the backs of the private sector — that ultimately ends up paying for it — a situation that consistently and substantively damages small businesses in this province.
And as we have noted on this page before, the NDP’s labour and finance ministers constantly talk about how their government has eliminated Manitoba’s small business tax, but the lack of taxation has become a moot point as salary costs continuously grow.
Yet for those Manitobans who favour using the minimum wage as a means to social change, they would point to the CPA statistics as proof that consistent increases are helping the poor. With fewer people living from paycheque to paycheque, the government’s policy must be working, right?
Well, that’s certainly debatable.
If the government’s spring budget is still on track, Manitobans are promised a $250 increase in the basic personal exemption on their income taxes — essentially the amount of money one can earn before being subject to income tax.
But as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business wrote earlier this year, this increase still leaves the province with the fourth-lowest personal exemption in the country.
And while a slightly higher personal tax exemption and a higher minimum wage leaves a few more coins in the pockets of the working poor, those pockets are immediately picked by the NDP and its decision this year to increase the PST from seven to eight per cent.
In the meantime, too many Manitobans are spending beyond their means — obviously taking their cue from the provincial government, which increased spending by 2.8 per cent over last year’s budget and projected a deficit of $518 million this year.
Where does all this leave us? Feeding an ongoing NDP addiction to spending other people’s money.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 1, 2013