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Transfer payments, PST hike show NDP can't control spending: Pallister

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Brian Pallister

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The NDP have been the benefactors of increasing transfer payments from Ottawa since 1999 when it came to power and increased tax revenue, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said today.

Those are the two main reasons the Selinger government does not need additional revenue from the one-point hike in the provincial sales tax as of July 1.

Pallister told reporters the NDP has never had to deal with reduced transfer payments as the former PC government did under then-premier Gary Filmon in the 1990s.

He said the Filmon government never saw transfer payments above $2 billion and the NDP has never seen them below $2 billion.

He said transfers from the federal government to the province have been above $3.5 billion annually since 2008.

He produced a chart that showed the pace of transfer payments since 1988 excluding money provided by Ottawa following the 1997 and 2011 floods.

Pallister said the PST increase was brought in only because the government cannot control its spending.

"What it means is the government is getting a raise and they’re asking for an even bigger one each year while Manitobans get cuts," he said.

Pallister has also raised the issue in Question Period (see page 3269 in Hansard) this week.

Pallister also said today that comments from NDP House Leader Jennifer Howard, that PC stall tactics are pushing the government towards a fiscal cliff, are desperate fear-mongering.

"I seriously doubt that such a cliff even exists," he said. "I think it’s a scare tactic. It’s a desperate government that will say anything to try to get its way."

He also said his party would not oppose an interim supply bill should the NDP introduce one in the coming days.

"What politician wants to be responsible for anyone getting laid off unnecessarily, right? Of course, it’s not in anyone’s best interest to do anything but continue the government services that we offer people."

The NDP says Pallister’s position on federal transfer payments is inaccurate.

Following his press conference this morning, NDP cabinet communications circulated this email to reporters:

  • Manitoba’s total federal transfers in actual dollars have actually been flat-lined for five straight years.
  • Our federal transfers per capita have declined by 4.5 per cent from $2,749 in 2009-10 to a projected $2,623 in 2013-14. In real terms, when inflation is factored in, that actually means an 11 per cent decrease.
  • Federal transfers as a portion of our total budget continue to decline, down from 31 per cent in 2009-10 to 27.1 per cent in 2013-14.

History

Updated on Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM CDT: corrects figures for federal transfers per capita

12:39 PM: fixes typo

8:39 PM: Corrects typo.

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