Manitoba seniors are fed up with the deceptions and arbitrary decisions from Pallister’s government that impact their future, said Health, Seniors and Active Living critic Matt Wiebe today.
“This government keeps hiding reckless decisions that impact vulnerable Manitobans with a dangerous game of smoke and mirrors,” said Wiebe. “My phone's been ringing off the hook from seniors who feel deceived, confused and angry by a government that is not giving them straight answers. Pallister told Manitobans he would maintain the rebate on CJOB and a PC party representative told Maureen McGregor they would keep our government’s commitments. Enough is enough. Pallister needs to stop playing politics and come clean with seniors.”
On April 13, 2016, a CJOB reporter asked Pallister: “Will you continue with the seniors’ school tax rebate, yes or no?” Brian Pallister said: “Yes we will.”
Then, on April 15, 2016, Heather Stefanson’s campaign manager wrote to PC supporter Maureen McGregor to assure her: “Per your question regarding seniors property tax rebates; the PC Party will commit to ensure that seniors are rebated as they have been under the current government.” That “current government” tabled a budget on April 30, 2015 that told Manitobans the rebate would be capped at $2,300 in 2016.
Despite these assurances, no cheques were sent for the budgeted increase in 2016. In fact, one of the government’s first orders of business was to not only cut the increase to the rebate, they clawed back the rebate for seniors with an annual household income over $40,000. According to Pallister, a household income of $65,000 is considered so wealthy, no rebate is offered at all.
“Together with their refusal to continue an almost two-decades-long annual increase to minimum wage and the salary raise that all cabinet members gave themselves, we have a clear picture of the priorities of this government,” said Wiebe. “They will work to line their own pockets, and those at the top, but not those who need it the most.”
The government continued to confuse the issue when they said seniors could apply for retroactive payments for previous years, and then changed their tune. Seniors looking for answers were out of luck. Pallister’s government went ahead and shut the tax rebate office before the ink was even dry on the budget. This is neither open nor transparent.
“Clearly, they did not consult seniors and are not concerned with the impact of this hasty decision on the lives of those that built this province,” continued Wiebe. “It is absurd that this government believes seniors with an annual household income of $40,000 are wealthy and undeserving of the tax credit they expected. This government only cares about the optics of their books, not working to ensure seniors have a stable future.”