April 10, 2020

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Plans, promises and platforms

What the major parties pledge they'll do if elected

(From left) Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, NDP Leader Greg Selinger and Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari pose for a photo prior to the start of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce debate at the RBC Convention Centre on Wendesday.

JOE BRYSKA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

(From left) Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister, NDP Leader Greg Selinger and Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari pose for a photo prior to the start of The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce debate at the RBC Convention Centre on Wendesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/4/2016 (1453 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The three main political parties have been making dozens of promises to voters since well before the election campaign formally began in mid-March.

Here's a sampling from each:

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari

The Liberals

Taxation

No new taxes. They promise to remove the land transfer tax for first-time home buyers. They would remove the PST from cut and colour hair services at a cost of $7 million a year and from children’s sporting goods at a cost of $4 million annually. The Liberals have also promised to gradually rebate the PST paid by local governments. And they’ve promised to phase out the payroll tax on larger companies, which brings in $450 million a year. The party would not reduce the provincial sales tax until at least 2023, and only after the budget is balanced.

Debt reduction

The Liberals, like the NDP, are counting on the tax revenues generated by economic growth to gradually reduce the deficit. Senior bureaucrats would be given a free hand to look for cost savings in government, but not at expense of jobs or services. Programs would be assessed to ensure they meet specific outcomes; if not they would be cut. Setting the tone at the top, the premier and cabinet ministers would no longer get the use of a free car and MLA mail-outs funded by taxpayers would be sharply curtailed. The Liberals say they would balance the province’s budget within five to six years.

Health care and education

Health care funding would be allowed to rise by four per cent per year. The Liberals would establish a dedicated stroke unit. They would allow low-income seniors to ride in ambulances without charge. They would spend $5 million to increase opportunities for in-vitro fertilization. Some mental health services would be placed under medicare for the first time at a cost of $5 million a year. They also pledged $25 million in annual food subsidies to boost nutrition in the North. And, they announced a plan to increase organ donations whereby those renewing their driver’s licences would be asked if they wished to sign up.

The Liberals would hold education spending increases to 2.5 per cent. Specific promises include: spending $50 million over five years to implement full-day kindergarten in all schools, $10 million a year to convert student loans into grants and instituting mandatory physical activity daily for each grade.

Social spending

The Liberals would launch studies with a view to introducing a guaranteed minimum income for Manitobans. They would invest $15 million on northern housing. They pledged to increase the maximum age for kids in care of CFS to as high as 25, while reducing the numbers of those in care by half over four years. They promised to invest in social infrastructure to build new child care centres and repair existing ones. They would also consider attaching child care centres to seniors residences for the benefit of both the kids and the oldsters. In total, they pledged $30 million on top of current funding levels to child care.

Other

They promised that indigenous Manitobans would make up at least 10 per cent of the members of the Manitoba legislature under a new system of proportional representation beginning next election. They said they would pass legislation to pave the way for a Uber-type taxi service. They’ve promised to freeze apartment rents in 2017 and 2018, spend up to $20 million to establish a downtown Winnipeg food store, order the city to lower, proportionally, the amount of property tax paid by condo owners (compared with house owners).

Defining policy

No one policy stands out, but the Liberal promise to privatize liquor sales has caused considerable debate both inside and outside the party. Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries would still control distribution, but would remove itself completely from retail sales. Beer and wine would be sold in grocery and convenience stores. Hotel vendors could add wine to their beer sales. The Grits have pledged to scrap a plan to relocate the headquarters of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries to the downtown.

Cost

Leader Rana Bokhari provided a costing plan early in the campaign, estimating her spending promises would total about $200 million by April 19. The Liberals have not updated that forecast with a more specific figure.

 

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Premier Greg Selinger </p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Premier Greg Selinger

 

The NDP

Taxation

New Democrats would take $52 million per year from high-income earners (over $170,000) and transfer it to 306,000 lower-income families through tax credits.

Debt reduction

No specific plan other than counting on a program of large investments in infrastructure and job training to spur economic growth. The expectation is that increased economic activity will boost tax revenues. The party says it is targeting a balanced budget by 2019, in line with the Trudeau government's plans federally.

Health care and education

The NDP promises to cut ambulance fees in half and eliminate the per kilometre charge for rural and northern patients. It would build – or at least get advanced planning done – on 1,000 personal care home beds over the next four years. It would also double the number of QuickCare clinics operated by nurse practitioners and registered nurses and extend the facilities' hours. Just before the election, it committed $70 million for a new CancerCare Manitoba centre as well as to the expansion of youth mental health services.

The NDP would spend $40 million to turn Manitoba student loans into upfront grants, double scholarship and bursary funding, give free tuition to age 25 for students in care of CFS and cap parents’ fees for school extras at $100 per child. New Democrats say they would also support 1,500 more apprenticeship students a year to build a more skilled workforce. They've committed $150 million to the University of Manitoba capital campaign.

Social spending

The NDP promises to build more child care centres and fund 12,000 more public child care spaces over the next half-dozen years or so. About $25 million a year would be spent on building centres and expanding facilities. The party promises to beef up community centres and rec centres and invest more in libraries.

Other

The NDP promises to transform Winnipeg by removing rail lines out of communities, boost rapid transit and partner with Ottawa to complete an inner ring road, beginning with extending Chief Peguis Trail to McPhillips Street. It promises to work to eliminate the pay gap between men and women and to ensure women are equitably represented on government and corporate boards. To support the film industry, the party would fund an upgrade to the film production centre and make the video production tax credit permanent. And it pledges to boost arts and culture funding by $4 million a year. The party would encourage development of downtown parking lots owned by government or Crown corporations. It would boost the minimum wage by at least 50 cents a year. And it would double the number of yurts and expand WIFI in provincial parks.

Defining policy

NDP Leader Greg Selinger has been telling anyone who will listen for the past few years that big government spending on infrastructure and job training will spur economic growth, create jobs and eventually create enough tax revenue to balance the books.

Cost

The NDP estimated Friday the operating cost of its campaign promises -- less what was already accounted for in the government’s March economic and fiscal outlook -- would be $34.2 million this year and $137.3 million by 2020-2021. It says the capital costs of its promises would total $343 million (in addition to $545 million already pencilled into the March outlook). The fiscal outlook projected a summary deficit of $619 million for the current fiscal year.

 

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS </p><p>Progressive Conservtive leader Brian Pallister</p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Progressive Conservtive leader Brian Pallister

 

The Progressive Conservatives

Taxation

The PCs would lower the PST by a percentage point to seven per cent by 2020, and index tax brackets and the basic personal exemption to the rate of inflation in their first budget year.

Debt reduction

The PCs promise to find $138.8 million in government savings – about one per cent of the entire budget – in their first fiscal year in office. They promise to "spend smarter" by improving tendering practices, reducing government travel, eliminating partisan advertising and, among other things, and generate $50 million in savings through a "value for money review" of government. They will set the right tone at the top, they say, by reducing the size of cabinet by one-third. Party Leader Brian Pallister says he won't promise to balance the province's budget in his first term in office until he's had a chance to look at the books.

Health care and education

The Tories promised to lower ambulance fees by 50 per cent at a cost of about $2.8 million a year. They will also strike a task force with a view to shortening wait times for service in hospital emergency rooms as well as for orthopedic surgery. The PCs also promise to "fast track" the construction of 1,200 personal care home beds, create a dedicated stroke unit, develop a "comprehensive mental health strategy" that combines mental health and addictions programs and services, and improve doctor recruitment and retention.

They would introduce a "read to succeed" program to ensure children passing Grade 3 are reading at or above national levels. They would also increase provincial matching of private post-secondary bursary/scholarship money to a total of $20.5 million. They would grant teachers full discretion to mark students' work "appropriately" and allow them to write report cards as they see fit, including comments on student behaviour.

Social spending

The PCs would reduce the red tape around the establishment of home-based day cares to increase their numbers. They would also increase operating funding for licensed home-based child care centres. They pledged to increase "incentives" for folks to be come early childhood educators. On child protection, the PCs will introduce legislation to make it easier for government departments, police and CFS agencies to share information when dealing with at-risk kids.

Other

The PCs promise to spend "no less than $1 billion a year" on strategic infrastructure. They would boost funding to the tourism industry by $28.2 million over the next five years. They promised to implement a provincewide policy to improve water quality and reduce flooding, institute a two-year moratorium on all lease and service fees for cottages inside provincial parks, and curtail "unsustainable and unsafe" hunting practices, such as night hunting. They would also change the law to ensure there is a secret ballot by workers anytime a union attempts to organize a workplace. And they would help establish a curling centre of excellence in Manitoba.

Defining policy

The PCs promise to lower Manitobans’ taxes while maintaining frontline services. They say they can find and eliminate sufficient waste in government to pay for their tax cuts.

Cost

The Progressive Conservatives said their campaign promises will cost $116.9 million in the first full year of government (2017-2018). Their pledge to reduce the PST to seven per cent from eight "no later than 2020" will cost an estimated $300 million annually.

 

-- Compiled by Larry Kusch and Nick Martin

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