Organization calling for education property tax dollars to be used elsewhere

The Province of Manitoba has begun phasing out the education tax rebate – but some Manitobans say they’d rather the money go somewhere else.

The province has been phasing out the provincial education property tax – sending out rebate cheques for 2022 – and will again for this year. But Molly McCraken, the Manitoba executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, says it is confusing people.

“Property owners don’t understand why they’re getting this cheque,” she said.

The centre says an average of $775 per household is expected to go out in the next round of rebates, totalling roughly $450 million.

Last year the province have out 37.5 per cent of a household’s total education property tax. That amount will increase by 50 per cent this year.

McCraken said they wanted to find out how people felt about the rebate before the next provincial education budget is announced, which she is anticipating to see next month.

The centre commissioned a poll – which found more than half of Manitobans wanted the money to go elsewhere.

The poll conducted by Probe Research spoke to 1,000 Manitobans, and found 58 per cent of people polled said they’d rather the rebate be cancelled and the money used for other public services. It also found 33 per cent of respondents said they prefer the rate – and the rest were unsure.

The poll was conducted between November 22 and December 5. It has a 3.1 per cent margin of error.

The Province of Manitoba said in a prepared statement that this rebate is the most significant tax rebate in the province’s history. 

“This rebate along with the many tax measures our government has introduced is helping to ensure Manitobans see more of their hard-earned money,” the province said. “Most importantly these measures help to provide important relief now to all Manitoban families facing hyper-inflation.”

The province says Manitobans are experiencing high inflation rates at the grocery store and affordability is an important issue for it to address.

“We remain focused on employing a strong, fiscal foundation that provides better services to all Manitobans.  This includes taking a careful and disciplined approach to managing expenditures while protecting and investing in frontline services.”

McCracken says instead of rebates – she’s like to see it go towards healthcare or education improvements.

“The cuts are coming home to roost,” McCracken said. “And I think another connection people have been seeing is the more property or wealth you have the larger the cheque is that you’ve been receiving.”

McCracken also says she’d rather rebates be determined by income.

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