Tories on defensive over rebates to wealthy
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This article was published 12/05/2022 (204 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Progressive Conservative government was forced to defend its marquee education property tax rebate on Thursday after it was revealed commercial landowners received massive cheques in the past year.
During question period, Opposition Leader Wab Kinew said the Tory tax program amounted to corporate welfare, with the owners of shopping centres, business towers and arenas receiving more than $3 million combined in 2021, according to a CBC report.
The Polo Park shopping centre received a rebate cheque worth more than $1 million — the largest among commercial property owners — according to data obtained through a freedom of information request.
“At a time when schoolchildren are asked to do with less, they got a $1-million cheque from this government,” Kinew said.
The PCs introduced the rebate last year. It provided rebates of 25 per cent and 10 per cent on education taxes to residential and commercial property owners, respectively.
This year, the rebate will increase to 37.5 per cent for residential and farm property owners and stay at 10 per cent for other properties. The program is expected to cost the government $349.9 million this year.
Premier Heather Stefanson said despite sending out massive cheques to commercial land owners, and significantly smaller ones to homeowners, her government is still spending a “record” amount on education, health and social services.
The government estimates the average rebate for a homeowner in 2021 was $387 and will be $581 this year.
“It’s important that Manitobans know and understand the facts,” Stefanson said. “There are more investments being made in all of these areas in Manitoba.”
Kinew argued commercial property owners such as Cadillac Fairview, which owns CF Polo Park, don’t need another tax break from the province.
He said money would be better spent on the public education system.
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said the tax rebate program will benefit “all Manitobans.”
“Manitobans are crying out for relief. Our government is responding with a rebate that will go to 425,000 households,” Friesen said.