In the unlikely event there was any doubt, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister today reaffirmed his party’s opposition to the NDP government’s increase of the provincial sales tax.
On the eve of Tuesday’s throne speech, which will outline Premier Greg Selinger’s government’s priorities for the coming year, the Tory leader said the PST increase as of July 1 has been a job-killer.
Pointing to today’s just-released job numbers, Pallister said the province is going backwards under the NDP.
"This labour force survey this morning gives clear evidence to support the contention that Manitoba is being weakened by this government’s actions," Pallister said. "As we weaken Manitobans’ financial strength we weaken our economy. The job numbers today reinforce that fact very clearly. We’re losing jobs. We’re losing people."
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said today Pallister ignored what the Friday’s labour force survey also said: the number of people working in the province has changed little compared with 12 months ago.
Ashton also said private-sector employment has increased in the past month.
"Our unemployment is unchanged," he said. "It’s still one of the lowest in Canada."
Ashton added the province’s plan to spend more money on infrastructure will grow the economy. Details will be in Tuesday’s throne speech.
"What we’re going to do with the one-cent on the dollar (PST increase) is invest it in basic infrastructure that’s going to grow the economy even further," he said.
The NDP raised the PST one percentage point to eight per cent without the legislative requirement for a public referendum. The PCs says to date the NDP have seen about $100 million in new revenue.
MLAs will vote on Bill 20, the bill that allows the PST hike, before the legislative assembly rises in mid-December. Tory opposition to the tax increase saw MLAs sit through the summer in a rare extended sitting.