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The Progressive Conservatives are promising to provide income tax relief to Manitobans in their first year in office, but they wouldn’t immediately say how much it would cost.
PC Leader Brian Pallister said Monday a government he leads would raise the personal income tax exemption by at least the rate of inflation in its first full budget year — and boost it eventually to the Canadian average among provinces.
He said he would immediately end "bracket creep," which occurs when tax brackets fail to account for inflationary increases in income.
Pallister called bracket creep a way of "sneaking more money off the kitchen tables of Manitoba families" each year.
Only Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have personal exemptions for income tax that are lower than Manitoba’s $9,134. Pallister has said he would like to increase the exemption by $2,000, but he declined Monday to predict when that would happen if his party forms government.
The Tories would begin by indexing the exemption to inflation and then look for savings in government so it can be increased at a greater rate at a later date.
"As we find those savings we’ll give those savings back in the form of lower taxes to Manitobans," Pallister said.
"Under Greg Selinger’s government, we start taxing people here at around $9,000. By comparison, Saskatchewan doesn’t start until about $16,000.
"That takes a lot of money away from working families, and it especially impacts on the middle and lower-income family income bracket."
The PC leader would not estimate Monday how much it would cost the government to increase the personal exemption or end bracket creep.
He said he would announce that on Friday when he releases the cost of his party’s platform.
Pallister has also vowed to reduce the PST by a percentage point — to eight per cent from seven per cent — during his first term in office. That would cost about $300 million a year.
NDP Leader Greg Selinger asked how the Tories would pay for their promise to end bracket creep.
"If you make that an automatic thing you’re going to do, you’re taking money off the table for services like health care and education. So that puts those programs at risk," the premier said following his own campaign announcement in the Murray Industrial Park.
Selinger said the PCs are placing seniors at risk by not committing to maintaining the provincial property tax credit for seniors and noted his party’s plan to place a surtax on high-income earners.
"Both the Conservatives and Liberals have rejected an approach that ask those at the top to pay a little bit more to ensure that middle-class and working families have a little more money in their pockets," Selinger said.
Meanwhile, Pallister said he "strongly disagrees" with political analysts who have said he is running a cautious and "boring" campaign.
"I might be boring, but we’re not running a safe campaign. We’re running a very different campaign from the modern norm. The modern norm is for political parties to... go around and make promises to people to buy their vote. And that’s what the NDP and Liberals are doing in this campaign," he said.
"We’re making far fewer of those types of promises. We’re the only party that’s actually committed to reducing waste in government and returning the savings to Manitobans in the form of lower taxes.... And that is not without risk because modern-day campaigns are based on promising people targeted benefits, and that’s exactly what the other two parties are doing."
— with files from Bartley Kives
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.