The Pallister government will give what it claims is the largest tax cut in the history of Manitoba. They will do this be increasing the personal income tax exemption. Yet a person who earns $9,000, an income which is below the current personal exemption, will not benefit from this tax change, and he or she will have to pay more as a result of increased hydro rates and increased costs for gas for his or her car, the increased costs for heating his or her home and increased tuition to send his children to post-secondary education. The budget does not treat those on low incomes fairly. I raised this concern in Question Period on March 15th. My question and the Minister of Finance's response is below. You can also see it on video by clicking on this link - QP on growing inequality.
You can see from the Minister's response that he either does not understand the situation of those on low incomes or does not care about it.
Low-Income Manitobans - Cost-of-Living Concerns
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the health of people is improved in countries with greater equality, yet the Finance Minister's budget has no benefit for a fisherman who makes $9,000 a year. He gains nothing from the increased personal exemption, yet has to pay higher costs for gas for his boat, to heat his home, for electricity to turn his lights on and higher tuition to send his children to post‑secondary education. The government is taking a lot of money off his kitchen table.
Why is the Minister of Finance with his budgetary approach creating greater inequality and throwing struggling people with low incomes under the bus?
Hon. Cameron Friesen (Minister of Finance): Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to respond to that question.
The member for River Heights could not be more wrong. As a matter of fact, not only are we bringing the largest tax cut to Manitobans in the history of this province, I recently saw a CBC article that says if you want the poor in Canada to do better, the way to do it is not by increasing the minimum wage, but it is by raising the basic personal exemption because that is how you put more money back in the pockets of hard-working Manitobans.
We're giving Manitobans a break because they deserve it.