Winnipeg, MB — Party leader James Beddome announced that the Greens will make the province’s property tax system fairer by eliminating the education property tax. Instead, schools would be funded through corporate and personal income taxes, which he said would provide more equitable funding to schools and remove the unfair burden on property tax payers.

“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 Beddome. “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.”

Beddome said that funding education from personal and corporate tax revenues based on a progressive income tax system would be a more appropriate and fairer way to provide funding to school divisions, creating a better provincial education system. Under the current system, inequities are unavoidable because of the different revenue capacities of school divisions, which in turn affects what each division can afford to spend.

While the overall funding structure would change, Beddome said that schools would still be able to make decisions on how to spend their discretionary funding in order to meet local needs. He also said that he saw no need to amalgamate school divisions, as has been suggested by the PCs.

With respect to the taxpayer, Beddome said that the overall change would end up being revenue neutral.

 “Most homeowners will be better off,” said Beddome. “Small businesses would see no tax change and large corporations would take on a greater responsibility for funding education.”

Beddome also said that the Greens proposal would reduce the unfair tax burden on farmers. While owners of farmland are currently eligible for a rebate of up to 80% of what they paid in education taxes, they have to specifically apply for the grant, and must meet certain eligibility criteria. This rebate also does not apply to taxes that have been paid on farm residences and other buildings on the property.

“Not only is this strategy fairer for our students, it is fairer for the taxpayer as well. It’s a win-win,” Beddome said.