June 11, 2012
Speak Out Against Ridiculous Tax Hike
Colin Craig, Winnipeg Sun, June 9, 2012
The amount of money you have for groceries, your mortgage payment and putting clothes on your kids is under attack. Again.
The Manitoba Federation of Labour and the Manitoba Business Council (represents many CEOs of the largest businesses in Manitoba) want you to pay an 8% sales tax on everything you buy instead of the current rate of seven.
It seems they looked around at our crumbling roads and highways and fi-ured that the only way to fix them is to raise the PST.
If only they would do a bit more research.
If they had reread the 1999 provincial budget and the 2010 provincial budget (before a spike in flood spending), they could easily calculate that government spending has increased by more than double the rate of inflation, even when you account for population growth.
That high rate of spending is why Manitobans already pay the highest income taxes in Canada.
According to Ernst and Young's online personal income tax calculator, Manitobans pay more in income taxes at the $40,000 income level than any other province in Canada.
Tax-hike lovers in the province also need to recall the 2012 Manitoba budget. Specifically, the fact it included the largest tax hike in 25 years in Manitoba.
In the 2011 election NDP Premier Greg Selinger promised not to raise taxes, but just after getting elected he applied a 7% tax to haircuts over $50, home insurance, pedicures, manicures and tattoo services to name a few. Combined with other tax increases, Manitobans saw a whopping $184 million tax hike.
It's obvious that many of our roads and highways need fixing, but instead of tax hikes, wasteful spending should be redirected.
The government should look at downsizing the large bureaucracy as civil servants retire. According to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy research, Manitoba has 103 municipal and provincial employees per 1,000 people. Meanwhile, other provinces average just 84 per 1,000 citizens.
If Manitoba could merely become as efficient as the average province, taxpayers could save $1.2 billion annually in salaries and benefit costs. That savings opportunity is four-and-a-half times what hiking the sales tax would do.
Fortunately, the government could do it without causing pain to those who work for the government. You see, government documents show over the next five years, 3,466 civil servants will be ready for retirement. As people retire, the government should shrink back to the national average.
The province should also look at all the wasteful spending out there. For example, the $37,712 the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority spent on a rooftop patio and barbecue for its executive offices. Or say the fact some civil servants were given paid time to go Christmas shopping, only to be brought in on the weekend and paid overtime to catch up. And don't forget about the $39,518 that was spent handing out day full-colour day planners to the public.
One thing is for certain, if you don't speak out about the current tax hikes, imagine what kind of signal you're sending to the government and the lazy tax hiker crowd.
If they can get away with it once, they'll do it again.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy
is an independent public policy think tank whose mission is "to broaden the debate on our future through public policy research and education and to explore positive changes within our public institutions that support economic growth and opportunity."