Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

PST hike all grip and grim

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Statistics Canada brought some discouraging news to Manitobans struggling to get ahead -- year over year, wages rose at the slowest rate across Canada at the same time inflation hit residents here the hardest. It's getting tougher to make do with paycheques that barely budge, which essentially means workers are falling behind.

StatsCan's survey of weekly earnings as of July, reported last week, came as gas prices helped bump Manitoba's cost of living by three per cent -- the highest hike in Canada and more than twice the average rise, year over year. Also last month, the PST was hiked one percentage point by the NDP, which wailed about flood costs undermining its ability to fund critical public services.

That claim was undermined by the provincial Opposition on Wednesday. The Tories laid out government budget papers indicating that between now and 2015, Manitoba's own-source revenues (without federal transfers) are expected to grow 13.6 per cent, the second-fastest in Canada. That's without the new PST revenues, which then push growth to 23 per cent, blowing past every other jurisdiction.

Manitobans know, in dollars and cents, that paying the bills is getting harder. Yet the NDP is spending the tax hike on grip-and-grin funding announcements that suit their political interests. Little wonder the Selinger administration refused to abide by the law and put this PST hike to a public vote.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 30, 2013 A8

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