Manitoba finance minister Cameron Friesen has tabled a provincial budget that see people there pay just over five cents more for a litre of gas when the carbon tax kicks in September 1.
The Manitoba government says the average household can expect about $240 in extra costs, which largely come from heating and transportation. The Conservative government also outlined tax breaks for households and small businesses which it says will help soften the blow.
Friesen acknowledged the impact of the carbon tax will be “felt in households across Manitoba.” But he said the tax breaks should help.
“We are putting money back on the kitchen table of all Manitobans,” he said.
The carbon tax will also affect natural gas, diesel and propane but marked fuel used in agriculture, mining and forestry will be exempt. The province has promised that all carbon tax revenues will be returned to Manitobans through tax reductions, but that will take four years.
The budget includes a reduction in ambulance fees to $340 from $425, which the Tories promised in the 2016 election. It also introduces a new income tax credit for companies that provide on-site child care of up to $10,000 per child over five years. It’s limited this year to 200 spaces.
At the same time, the government is cutting post-secondary funding by $6 million, or one per cent.
Friesen said it works out to about $8 a month per student. Post-secondary institutions can make up the shortfall either through tuition increases or fundraising, he said.
The government is raising the basic personal exemption — the amount of money people can earn before they start paying income tax — by $2,000 to $11,400 by 2020. The threshold for small businesses to start paying taxes is also being raised from $450,000 to $500,000.
“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” Friesen said.
The province projects a summary deficit of $521 million — down more than $200 million from the current year — but there was a lot more money to plan with. Equalization payments from Ottawa are set to jump $217 million this year and the carbon tax, once it’s in play, is expected to raise $250 million annually.
The future of the film tax credit, considered one of the most generous in the country, is still uncertain following the budget. The government committed to funds this year, but also put together a working group to create a framework for a new tax credit.
The province used the budget to confirm the construction of five new schools, going ahead without private-public partnership models.