Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

CTF says government ignored own advice on PST hike

  • Print

The Selinger government ignored the advice of its own finance department staff when it raised the provincial sales tax July 1, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said today.

CTF Prairie Director Colin Craig said the documents he obtained through a freedom of information request suggest the government didn’t follow proper legal and legislative procedures before raising the sales tax by one point to eight per cent.

Craig said that in a Feb. 4, 2013 briefing note on raising the PST, the Manitoba government’s director of taxation advised the province must either hold a referendum or pass legislation to make it legal.

"I think it’s pretty clear from the documents that senior staff felt that legislation had to be passed first," Craig said. "You’ve got the director of taxation who’s been there years and years. This wasn’t some intern putting this document together on the back of a napkin."

The document was prepared by Kristine Seier, assistant director at Manitoba Finance and Richard Goern, a director at the province's taxation analysis branch.

Specifically, finance staff advised Feb. 4, 2013:

"An increased sales tax rate would require either a referendum under The Balanced Budget Act or a notwithstanding clause overriding the referendum requirement, which would require committee hearings into the amendment. The referendum must be held, or the notwithstanding clause enacted, before a rate increase could take effect. A notwithstanding clause enacted during the normal legislative agenda could receive royal assent as early as June of 2013 as part of the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act (BITSA), which means the rate increase could take effect July 1…"

Craig also said unnecessarily blacked-out information in the document suggests government may have considered increasing PST higher than eight per cent.

Bill 20, the legislation that waives the referendum requirement and raises the PST, has still not yet passed. The bill is to come up for a vote in the legislative assembly after the house reconvenes in November.


The Opposition Progressive Conservatives have said they are challenging the tax increase in court once Bill 20 is passed.

Progressive Conservative Opposition Finance Critic Myrna Driedger said the documents show the Selinger government ignored the advice of two of its experts.

She said the Tories asked for the same information in its own FOI request, but was denied.

"There’s like a big bubble of secrecy around what they’re doing these days and we have huge concerns about the lack of transparency," Driedger said.

Craig also said the CTF is calling on the government to immediately reverse the sales tax increase, refund the money and cut its "wasteful spending" instead.

To read the briefing note, click here.

To see blacked-out sections on the PST increase, click here.

To read other finance material on the PST increase, click here


Updated on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 11:13 AM CDT: fixes link, adds link

1:18 PM: corrects wording

1:54 PM: updates with full writethru

3:38 PM: Adds audio files.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets building strength and speed under fitness coach

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • A golfer looks for his ball in a water trap at John Blumberg Golf Course Friday afternoon as geese and goslings run for safety- See Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge- Day 24– June 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Has your opinion of Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec changed given his latest winning streak?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google