Seventy-seven percent of Manitobans want the government to extend the gas tax cut beyond the initial six-month period

Gage Haubrich: Manitobans overwhelmingly support extending gas tax cutFrom Brandon to Winnipeg to Steinbach and beyond, Manitobans want to keep the gas tax cut.

The Manitoba government cut the 14 cents per litre provincial fuel tax on gasoline and diesel on Jan. 1. The big savings at the pump are currently scheduled to last for just six months.

A new poll conducted by Leger shows 77 percent of Manitobans want the government to extend the fuel tax cut by an additional six months beyond the initial six-month period.

This kind of majority support in Manitoba is usually only reserved for the Jets or the Blue Bombers, not for politics.

The Manitoba NDP garnered 45.5 percent of the vote in October’s election. This isn’t a policy solely supported by partisans: it’s backed by Manitobans, who appreciate saving money on their bills every month.

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KEEP AN EYE ON MANITOBA

The numbers are speaking loudly: Premier Wab Kinew and Finance Minister Adrien Sala need to extend the gas tax cut.

When announcing the policy during the election campaign in August, Kinew said: “The reality of life in Manitoba today, especially if you live in the suburbs, especially if you live in rural or northern Manitoba, is that you’re going to be using gasoline for the foreseeable future and you need help.”

Those realities of life aren’t going to change by June.

But it doesn’t stop there: the poll results also show that 71 percent of Manitobans favour scrapping the gas tax altogether and making the savings permanent.

And the savings are significant. If your family has two vehicles – a sedan that you fill up once a week and a minivan that you fill up twice a month – you will be saving about $342 over six months. That’s $684 a year, a significant amount of money for a family struggling to afford the basics. That’s a payment plus insurance on one of those vehicles or a couple of trips to the grocery store for your family.

And driving is something that almost everyone needs to do. A construction worker can’t bring his gear on the bus, and a family looking to take a road trip to go ice fishing in the north can’t take a train. They can only fill up their vehicles with gas or diesel and hit the road.

The poll also shows that lower-income Manitobans are more likely to support the gas tax cut. Manitobans making a regular wage can’t afford to drop a bunch of money on an electric car. They need to use the vehicle they have and a gas tax cut makes it easier to afford to drive.

Keeping the relief going only makes sense for a government that claims to want to lower costs for Manitobans. Have you stepped into a grocery store lately? Keeping the price at the pumps lower is crucial to help families put more back in their pocket to use on their other ever-increasing bills.

Fuel is only going to get more expensive with the Trudeau government planning to hike its carbon tax. The carbon tax currently costs drivers 14 cents per litre of gas. On Apr. 1, that number will jump to 17 cents per litre. By 2030, it will be 37 cents per litre.

The Kinew government should not hike gas taxes back up on Manitobans when Ottawa is already set to keep making life more expensive.

Plus, the government can afford to make the tax cut permanent by trimming some of the fat off the budget. The government rakes in about $342 million per year from the fuel tax but spends about $482 million each year on corporate welfare. Scrapping subsidies would fully pay for the gas tax with money left over to reduce the deficit.

Manitobans don’t want to lose the savings from the government’s gas tax cut. Kinew needs to listen to the people and extend the gas tax cut in the provincial budget.

Gage Haubrich is the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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