Green party proposals include sugar tax, free bus rides and improved child care

The Green Party of Manitoba says that if it forms the next government it would eliminate education property taxes, ensure that collective bargaining agreements between unions and governments are honoured and push for proportional representation in Manitoba.

The Greens would also put a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, pay for 60 per cent of municipalities’ transit operating expenses if they stopped charging bus fares, and create 2,000 new licensed childcare spaces over the next 10 years.

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“Manitoba is currently the only province in Canada where school boards have the power to tax locally to meet divisional budgets, with local education taxes making up approximately one-third of the operating budget for public schooling,” said Green leader James Beddome Sept. 4. “The end result is an inequitable system in which some taxpayers pay too much, some school divisions are under-funded, and students are short-changed.”

Education would be funded through personal and corporate income taxes instead.

With regard to labour, the Green party would reverse the Public Services Sustainability Act and ensure frontline public sector workers were consulted before major changes were implemented in the future.

The proportional representation the Greens would push for would be a mixed-member system in which a majority of seats were filled via firs-past-the-post voting as they are now with the remainder based on parties’ shares of the popular vote.

“A proportional representation voting system will give every vote more meaning and result in a more representative and accountable legislature,” said Green deputy leader and Union Station MLA candidate Andrea Shalay Aug. 31.

The sugar tax would save $16 million in health care costs due top diabetes and other diseases every year, in addition to the $20 million in revenue it would generate, Beddome said.

On Aug. 23, the party leader said the offer to pay 60 per cent of transit operating costs if fares were eliminated would be extended to Winnipeg, Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson.

“If we want to get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions then we need to work on ways to get people out of single-occupancy fossil-fuel burning vehicles,” said Beddome. “One way to help achieve this would be to make public transit fare-free.”

The Green party’s child care plan would also ensure that no family below the poverty line paid for licensed child care and that the cost of care would never exceed 10 per cent of a family’s net income.

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