The head of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is stepping up pressure against the retail sales tax increasing without the permission from Manitoba voters.
Dave Angus, the Chamber’s president and CEO, is urging its members to send letters of protest to the Selinger government over the proposed PST hike and sign up to voice their displeasure when an enabling bill reaches the public consultation stage.
In a message to members, Angus called on the government to conduct a referendum on the PST issue, as called for under the current law.
"We would urge Manitobans to contact their local MLA and demand that the current Balanced Budget Law be upheld which would ensure that no tax increase occurs without a public referendum.," Angus wrote.
There is no question that Manitoba, like every other province in Canada is dealing with tough economic times, and a mounting infrastructure deficit makes it even more challenging, the Chamber leader said.
He said the Chamber has been vocal in its opposition to the PST hike because:
- The government failed to consult with key stakeholders.
- The government has not outlined a clear and detailed plan as to how it will spend the additional $277-million it will receive as a result of the increase.
- The decision will make Manitoba more uncompetitive with other jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan, which has a five per cent sales tax.
- It does not provide a solution for the significant municipal infrastructure deficit.