Winnipeg Sun, February 23, 2018
The Pallister government lacks the policy chops and vision to make Manitoba ‘great again’. The NDP’s model and support administration remains largely intact as a new PC budget with a damaging carbon dioxide tax looms.
Instead of Pallister’s ‘more of the same’, our deeply-indebted Province, with chronic annual deficits and a large lower-income population segment, needs actions to bring about an economic revival. Following the prescriptions of Pallister and NDP’s Kinew would keep our economy mired in excess debt, taxes and fees. This, just as interest rates are rising, bringing the further risk of severe job losses if NAFTA is gutted.
Manitoba needs a substantial make-over. Pallister should make taxes more competitive by modernizing our public sector. It should provide good customer service at an efficient cost. We need to prepare for what is coming, more competition for our industries and jobs. Manitobans need to feel more secure here, so our young and professionals will not keep leaving as they have for decades. It is fine that we have been receiving more immigrants than we have since the early 1900s, but we need to keep them here.
So, ahead of what likely will be a disappointing provincial budget, here is a policy roadmap for a confident, fearless, successful and growing Manitoba: - Cancel the Pallister Carbon Dioxide Tax while repealing Efficiency Manitoba legislation and refocusing environment policy back to the basics of clean air and water – no more old Soviet-style energy central planning.
Begin a comprehensive reform of Manitoba Hydro – sell Centra Gas and separate Hydro’s debt from its uneconomic expansion to reduce rate hikes before considering other major restructuring.
Bring real transformative healthcare and education reform, focus on improving outcomes and lowering costs – bringing both metrics to at least the Canadian average.
Start post-secondary education reform by removing race-based/gender- based entry quotas and mandatory political education courses. Focus funding on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Tax reform – repeal the payroll tax and land transfer tax, reduce corporate and income tax rates to western Canadian average, and adopt a harmonized sales tax (merge GST and PST).
End traffic fines as taxation policy. End revenue-maximizing special enforcement policies.
Promote bidding by open-shop contractors for infrastructure projects, and bring in gold-standard procurement policies throughout the public sector.
Refund the Workers Compensation Board’s excessive accumulated surplus to employers, and amend MPI’s investment policy to boost investment revenue towards reducing premiums.
As part of broader City of Winnipeg Act reforms, repeal Winnipeg’s development-phobic development impact tax, review restrictive and expensive licenses and inspections, and stop raiding the water utility to artificially reduce property tax increases.
Bring in a comprehensive MLA conflict of interest act while truly practicing openness and transparency at both the municipal and provincial levels.
Remove the Province from retail distribution of alcohol and marijuana.
Enable a sharing economy, such as ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
Work with the federal government to move the proposed Lowlands National Park away from an ‘untouched’ and valuable $2 billion nickel deposit – a future job and economic driver for Manitoba.
Our provincial government needs to begin bringing back a pioneer spirit to reinvigorate Manitoba’s economy, to benefit our collective future.