The province's Finance Minister is calling on the federal government to help ease the pressure Manitobans are feeling at the gas pump.
In response to what he says is a frequent suggestion from Manitobans that government should be providing economic relief at the pump by decreasing gas taxes during this time of historic inflation, Cameron Friesen clarified the provincial and federal levies applied to fuel in a recently authored op-ed titled, Hard Facts on Gas Tax.
"There's a lot of people out there that do not understand how fuel tax works," says Friesen. "So, I wrote an article to remind Manitobans of what the Province assesses in tax on your fuel, what the federal government assesses - which is much much more in tax - and talking about our provincial government's commitment to try to keep life affordable during these times of inflation and calling out the federal government to do more in that regard."
As Friesen explained, the Manitoba government applies an excise tax on fuel at 14 cents per litre. This is a fixed price per litre, it is not price-sensitive. "That means the government of Manitoba does not make additional fuel tax revenue from high prices at the pump," he says, noting the excise tax is the only provincial tax on gas – there is no PST applied and no other form of provincial tax.
"But it's another story when it comes to federal taxes," adds Friesen. "It's like a 1-2-3 punch."
He explains the federal government has its own excise tax on fuel at 10 cents per litre. Second is the carbon tax, which is now 11.1 cents per litre, and finally, there is the five per cent GST that is applied to fuel. This final tax, notes Friesen, is price-sensitive - meaning the higher the price of gas, the more revenue the federal government makes.
"We're calling on the federal government to take a hard look at their practices. We're not trying to tell them what to do in terms of which tax to adjust, but we're certainly saying now is the time when Manitobans need relief at the pumps and what are they doing about it?"
"Manitobans know that our (provincial) spring budget was very significant in terms of addressing the issue of affordability. So, we know that our government is taking this seriously," adds Friesen. "The federal government continues at the pump to really gouge Manitobans. At the very least, this would be a very good time for them to be reflecting on the fact that they're pulling $12 million per month out of Manitoba in just the GST, that's $140 million a year."
In canvassing his provincial and territorial counterparts, Friesen says he has learned there is support for measures to engage the federal government on this issue.
"We (the Manitoba government) have said, how can we participate? What can we do together?"