Wab Kinew says his party’s approach won’t be ‘dramatically different;’ NDP doesn’t say if they’d eliminate tax
Ian Froese · CBC News · Posted: May 08, 2023 8:27 PM EDT | Last Updated: May 8
Education property tax rebates would stick around under a Manitoba NDP government, party leader Wab Kinew is promising, but the number of recipients will shrink.
Kinew told reporters on Monday his party wouldn’t make major changes to one of the PC government’s signature pledges.
“I don’t think you’ll see us do anything dramatically different, except when it comes to billionaires outside of the province,” Kinew said.
“To hear that some of the richest people in the world have been getting $100,000 cheques from this PC government while Manitobans are tightening their belts; we’re calling out that that’s the wrong approach.”
The New Democrats’ main quibble with the education tax rebates in recent months has been the wealth of some out-of-province recipients. The party has alleged the province is lining the pockets of billionaires at the expense of the school system.
In question period on Monday, the NDP presented its own calculations that show Superstore locations in Winnipeg and Brandon collected $300,000 in rebates in a recent year. CBC News has not independently verified these figures.
“We’re calling on this premier to stop her handouts for billionaires who don’t even live in Manitoba and instead to invest those resources in our schools,” Kinew said.
Later in question period, Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson alleged the NDP don’t support the nearly $55 million in rebates that agricultural producers are slated to receive this year through the rebate.
‘Local is key’ in which property owners should get rebate: NDP
While speaking with reporters, Kinew wouldn’t reveal how his government would determine which owners of commercial properties are entitled to the rebate, other than to state “I think local is key.”
Kinew also didn’t say if the NDP would continue with the PC’s pledge during the 2019 election to gradually phase out the education property tax.
He said he’d reveal more details closer to the Oct. 3 election.
The education property tax rebate for homeowners and farm property owners is slated to climb from a 37.5 per cent rebate last year to 50 per cent this year. Owners of other properties, such as commercial, industrial and designated recreational, will once again receive a 10 per cent rebate.
Kinew suggested a NDP government would take the savings from cancelling some people’s rebates and directing it to a new nutritional program.
“We think there are so many kids who are going to school hungry right now. A great place to start would be offering a nutrition program,” Kinew said.
The NDP had previously sought to amend legislation so no commercial property owners would get the rebate. The proposed amendment did not pass.
The government has said it will come up with a different way to fund education, rather than through property taxes. A planned overhaul to the education funding model has been delayed, but is expected to be in place by the 2024-25 school year.
The Tories have said that funding education through property tax is an unfair system in which school divisions in wealthier areas receive a greater share of the money.
In a written statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Cliff Cullen said the Tory plan to “steadily reduce the taxes Manitobans pay is the right thing to do to help people make ends meet, but don’t be fooled by Wab Kinew — the NDP always say they won’t raise taxes, but they always do.”
“Under the strong leadership of Premier Stefanson, our PC team is the only party offering real tax relief and economic development opportunities for the benefit of all Manitobans,” the statement reads in part.