By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister promised Monday to remove the provincial sales tax from home and renters’ insurance if he is re-elected in the fall, saving the average household about $70 a year.
It’s Pallister’s first election promise for a campaign that won’t officially begin for another month, and would undo a tax hike the former NDP government enacted in 2012.
“We have some of the highest taxes in Canada,” Pallister said Monday, surrounded by several Progressive Conservative caucus members and supporters at a newly constructed suburban home.
“But we can be more competitive with our taxes by leaving a little more money on the kitchen table if we start taking the (sales tax) off essential things like home insurance.”
Pallister has already made it clear that tax cuts will be a central theme in his campaign for the Sept. 10 vote.
The former NDP government raised public anger when it raised the sales tax to eight per cent from seven per cent in 2013, one year after it expanded the sales tax to cover more items such as insurance, spa treatment and tattoos.
Pallister’s Tories cut the sales tax rate back to seven per cent as of July 1, fulfilling their biggest promise from the 2016 campaign that saw them sweep the NDP from office.
Pallister hinted he may announce more tax cuts as the election draws closer. He was asked whether he would eliminate the tax from other types of insurance the NDP started taxing, such as group life insurance and travel cancellation.
“We’ll be announcing other items as we move through the pre-election period … and as we do that, I’m sure that Manitobans will be pleased to know that they have a government that’s serious about making life better for them.”
Pallister did not say how much the tax cut would cost the provincial treasury. He promised to release a fully costed election platform later on.
Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said the New Democrats would offer promises of their own to make it more affordable to own or rent a home.
“We’ve got to remember that there’s a lot of ways to make life more affordable and, in particular, to make buying a first home easier,” Kinew said.
“We’re definitely going to be talking about that issue, and (about) affordability more generally.”