Schools, health spending and lower taxes among Progressive Conservatives’ parade of promises so far

Several new schools, $2 billion in additional health care spending and regulatory reforms to enable the creation of 40,000 new jobs are among the promises that Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative party has pledged to fulfill over the next four years during the first five days of the provincial election campaign that officially began Aug. 12.

The PCs kicked off their week of promises with the $2,020 tax guarantee on Monday, which claims it will save the average taxpayer about $500 per year through various forms of tax relief, such as the reduction of the provincial sales tax from eight per cent to seven per cent that came into effect July 1, exempting home insurance, tax and will preparation and some haircuts and nail treatments from PST and indexing basic personal allowance and personal income tax brackets every year.

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“The PC team is the only team that is committed and has the proven track record to lower taxes for all Manitobans,” said PC leader Brian Pallister in an Aug. 12 press release.

The party followed that up by announcing it would lower vehicle registration fees by $35 per vehicle per year, reversing what it said was a 30 per cent increase in vehicle registration fees by the NDP back in 2012.

On Wednesday, Pallister said a re-elected PC government would spend an additional $2 billion on health care services and facilities over the next four years, including the building of a $90 million emergency room at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg.

“This historic funding guarantee reflects our ongoing commitment to improving health care for Manitobans,” Pallister said in an Aug 14 press release.

Thursday saw the PCs promising to build 13 schools over the next 10 years in communities including Morden, Brandon, Sage Creek and Winnipeg to move 11,000 students out of trailers and into permanent classrooms.

The PCs capped the week by promising on Friday to introduce faster permitting as a way of encouraging private sector investment in support of a goal of creating 40,000 new private sector jobs by 2024. The PCs say faster permitting will lead to $5 billion in new investments per year and that every day that unnecessary permitting delays are reduced by increases provincial GDP by $17 million, municipal tax base revenues by $400,000 and provincial tax revenues by $1.7 million. Job growth would also be encouraged by increasing support for the tourism and film industries, establishing a 10-year strategic capital plan and increasing highways expenditures from $350 million to $400 million over the next four years, and developing a broadband strategy to expand connectivity and support job growth in rural, northern and remote communities. The PCs also say they plan to deliver “new money” to stimulate mineral exploration and development in the north and introduce regulatory reforms to enable the growth and expansion of local distillers and craft brewers.

“Our plan will ensure more Manitobans are working and finding good jobs than at any other time in our province’s history,” said Pallister.

Manitobans elect their next provincial government Sept. 10.

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