Pledge to target specific businesses unfair, inappropriate: Retail Council of Canada
CBC News · Posted: May 12, 2023 12:00 AM EDT | Last Updated: 12 hours ago
The Manitoba NDP’s plan to exclude out-of-province billionaires from receiving education property tax rebates is getting some pushback.
On Monday, Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew told reporters that if the party is elected, it would keep the rebates and cut the number of recipients.
He set his sights on a popular grocery chain as an example, claiming the provincial government gave a rebate of more than $300,000 to Loblaws — the company that owns stores like Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills. CBC News has not independently verified that figure.
Loblaws made a profit of more than $400 million in the first quarter and can hold its own weight in Manitoba without the rebate, Kinew said on Thursday.
But the Retail Council of Canada said comments like that are misguided.
“We think it’s highly inappropriate for any politician to unjustly call out one specific retailer in all sectors of our economy,” John Graham, director of government relations at the retail council’s prairie regional branch, told CBC News.
“To suggest that you want to target policy around specific companies just undermines the overall fairness strategy that most tax regimes should have.”
Graham said most retailers have a majority ownership located outside the province.
The retail council believes taxes should be applied fairly and plans to contact Kinew. They’ve already been in touch with Loblaws, he said.
“I think they’re surprised that a Manitoba political leader would be, personally, criticizing their business and their activities in the province.”
Loblaws employs more than 6,000 Manitobans at 70 stores across the province and they intend to reinvest more than $20 million in Manitoba over the next two years, a spokeperson said in an email to CBC News.
During Tuesday’s question period, Premier Heather Stefanson said Loblaws contributes millions of dollars in tax revenue to the province every year. Rescinding education property tax rebates from such companies could push them away from Manitoba, she said.
NDP chooses school kids over billionaires: Kinew
Kinew stuck to his message on Thursday.
“For the same amount of money that the PCs are sending to out-of-province billionaires, you could fund a provincewide nutrition program that is accessible in every single school in Manitoba,” he told reporters on Thursday.
He said the NDP will lay out the specifics of their fiscal policy as the next provincial election approaches.
“When it comes to choosing between billionaires who live outside of Manitoba, and school children here inside Manitoba — we’re going to invest in the education of Manitoba school children.”