Manitobans support Tories taking axe to tax: poll Anger over 2013 hike gives way to support for 1% cut, results show

Most Manitobans agree that cutting the provincial sales tax (PST) by one percentage point was the right decision for the Pallister government to make, according to a new poll.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/04/2019 (1523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Most Manitobans agree that cutting the provincial sales tax (PST) by one percentage point was the right decision for the Pallister government to make, according to a new poll.

Between March 11 and March 29, Probe Research surveyed 1,000 Manitoba adults and 203 Manitoba business owners and managers about their thoughts on the Progressive Conservatives’ major budget announcement from March 7.

Premier Brian Pallister
Premier Brian Pallister's pledge to cut the provincial sales tax to seven per cent is supported by 60 per cent of Manitobans, a new poll shows. MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

About six in 10 Manitobans (60 per cent) and two thirds of businesses (67 per cent) agreed reducing the PST was the right thing to do; dropping it from eight per cent to seven per cent as of July 1. The move fulfilled the PCs’ most-recognized 2016 election promise and seemed to open the door for an early election call, with the Tories seeking a second term mandate.

Probe principal Curtis Brown said he was curious how reaction would differ between the business community and the general public on the PST chop. In the end, their poll results showed near symmetry.

"I think in this case it’s pretty clear that whether you’re involved in business or whether you’re a citizen involved with business you think this is a good move," Brown said.



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He noted most Manitobans were more upset about the NDP breaking its promise to not raise the PST than they were about the tax hike in 2013.

Anger over former premier Greg Selinger
Anger over former premier Greg Selinger's decision to break a campaign promise and hike the sales tax to eight per cent remains, the poll results show. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Yet the Probe poll, when broken down along party lines, shows some bi-partisan support for cutting the PST. About 33 per cent of NDP supporters liked the decision, compared with 45 per cent of Liberals, 47 per cent of Greens and a whopping 83 per cent of PCs.

"So it shows this move is still somewhat popular among people who are not necessarily fans of this government," Brown said.

The poll also found men were more likely to support the PST cut than women (64 per cent versus 56 per cent), as were those living outside Winnipeg (70 per cent) compared with 53 per cent of city dwellers.



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In the business community, Probe surveyed 203 small, medium and large business owners and managers from across the province, most of whom applauded the tax cut. Businesses with headquarters in Manitoba were especially enthusiastic, with 72 per cent in favour.

Jonathan Alward, director of provincial affairs with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said their 4,800 Manitoba members support reducing the PST, but are still waiting for the Pallister government to deliver on another 2016 election promise for more tax relief.

Alward wants to see Manitoba’s personal tax exemption fall more in line with the national average. In 2019, Manitoba’s exemption is around $9,600, while the provincial average across Canada is closer to $11,900.

"This is a significant announcement they have yet to fulfill," Alward said. "What’s really important is they’re delivering on that commitment because small businesses need tax relief."

The CFIB conducted its own poll about the PST change recently, with help from the Angus Reid Forum. Their results skewed higher than Probe’s, finding 80 per cent of 235 Manitoba business owners surveyed between March 15 and March 25 said the province should reduce the PST by one per cent.

Twitter: @_jessbu



Probe Research surveyed 1,000 Manitoba adults between March 12 and March 24; and 203 Manitoba business owners and managers between March 11 and March 29. They asked respondents the same question: 

“As you may have heard, the Manitoba government recently announced that the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) will decrease from 8% to 7% in July. Overall, do you think it was the right decision or the wrong decision to do this?”

Probe said its poll results are accurate with 95 per cent certainty within 3.1 percentage points for the Manitobans’ survey, and within 6.9 percentage points for the business survey.

Modified random digit dialing was used to contact Manitoba adults, to ensure everyone had an equal opportunity to participate in the polling. Meantime, the business survey respondents were contacted by phone during Probe’s annual Manitoba Business Leaders index and had the option of finishing the survey by phone or online.


  • Right decision: 60 per cent of Manitoba adults and 67 per cent of Manitoba business leaders agreed with the PST cut.
  • Wrong decision: 40 per cent of adults and 22 per cent of business leaders disagreed. 
  • No opinion: N/A for Manitoba adults, while 11 per cent of business leaders were apathetic. 
  • By sex: 64 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women said the PST cut was the right move.
  • By location: 53 per cent of Winnipeggers and 70 per cent of non-Winnipeggers approved. 
  • By education: 78 per cent of those with high school education or less, 66 per cent of those with some post-secondary and 46 per cent of university graduates backed the tax cut.
  • By party: 83 per cent of Progressive Conservative supporters, 33 per cent of NDP supporters, 45 per cent of Manitoba Liberals and 47 per cent of Manitoba Greens liked the idea. 
  • Among businesses: 68 per cent of those in Winnipeg and 66 per cent outside Winnipeg said cutting the PST was the right decision.
  • Big business: those with more than 50 employees were most supportive (73 per cent), although smaller (10 and fewer employees) and medium-sized (10 to 49 employees) businesses also approved by 62 per cent and 68 per cent, respectively.
  • Sector spectre: 82 per cent of manufacturing businesses, 73 per cent of resource businesses and 64 per cent of service businesses supported reducing the PST. 

Source: Probe Research 


Updated on Monday, April 8, 2019 9:04 PM CDT: Fixes typo in headline

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