Manitoba's Premier says that property owners will no longer have to wait for rebate cheques in the mail as the government follows through on a major campaign promise, but the opposition claims that the plan so far is "just another one of their broken promises."
Premier Wab Kinew spoke to reporters on Thursday, saying that rebates for education taxes will now be applied directly to property tax bills.
"Now, instead of waiting to mail you a cheque from the government when it suits us, we're instead just going to apply this rebate of 50 per cent on your school taxes right onto your property tax bill," Kinew said at the Legislative Building.
He says that the change will save the province around half a million dollars in administrative costs and provide more immediate help to Manitobans.
Rebate cheques on property taxes were brought in by the former Progressive Conservative government, giving a 50 per cent rebate on education tax to residential and farm property owners, while commercial property owners receive 10 per cent back. During the election campaign, the now-premier said that not only was mailing the cheques costly for taxpayers, but it was inefficient and left taxpayers waiting.
Each municipality's property tax system is different but will see the rebates on their 2024 bills. People who pay their property taxes monthly will begin to see those rebates next year in the month the bills are due.
The NDP had also campaigned on the promise of stopping rebates to "out-of-province" billionaires. Kinew took specific aim at grocery giant Loblaw Cos. Ltd., saying they had received more than $300,000 in rebates. Kinew says Loblaw chairman Galen Weston is a billionaire who does not need the financial help.
Kinew told reporters that since getting into government, however, they've found the promise harder to put in place than they expected.
"This is one of the things that you say in Opposition, and then you get into government, and it's a bit more challenging. So we're still working on that, to be frank," Kinew said.
"It's not complicated for you and I to figure out who an out-of-province billionaire is, but when we're talking about administrating a province-level program fairly, we have to set up criteria. That is proving to be a lot of work."
The Opposition Tories took exception to the claim, with finance critic Obby Khan saying, "This is just another one of their broken promises."
"It's shocking to hear the NDP saying it's actually difficult to be in government," Khan told reporters on a call Thursday. "It's not shocking to hear them say they can't fulfil their promises going into this campaign."
With files from the Canadian Press.