Government Is Too Expensive

Commentary, Taxation, Frontier Centre

What happens if you can’t afford the government?

Think about that for a second.

Is it really sustainable for your paycheque to go up by 2 per cent a year, but your hydro bill to go up by 4 per cent, your school taxes by 6 per cent, your property taxes by 3.5 per cent and the provincial sales tax to go up to 8 per cent?

Obviously it isn’t sustainable, but that’s what’s going on; government is simply becoming way too expensive for many people.

Consider Fraser Institute research that shows the average Canadian family spent more on taxes (42.7 per cent of their household income) in 2012 than they did on food, shelter and clothing (36.9 per cent combined). Yet, back in 1961, only 33.5 per cent of the average household’s income went to taxes.

It’s clear to us at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a donation-based taxpayers’ watchdog organization, that the rising tax burden is hurting a lot of Manitoba families.

Since the provincial government announced it was raising the provincial sales tax, we have collected over 7,000 petition signatures against the move. We have also received tons of emails and phone calls from people saying they can’t afford all the tax increases.

One student in med-school emailed us on budget day to say “decisions like [the PST increase] lessen my resolve to work in Manitoba when I am finished training.” Can’t really blame the guy. Just as people shop around for better deals, he’s thinking about moving to a more competitive tax environment.

Speaking of moving, one media report highlighted how much a family saved after moving to Saskatchewan. Another news outlet talked to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce about their expectation that a higher sales tax in Manitoba will be a good thing for their economy. They figure the tax increase will mean more Manitobans, and their investment dollars, move west.

Fortunately, the problem itself is easy to diagnose – politicians are spending too much money.

For example, in the past, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has exposed how public school costs (K-12) have skyrocketed while the number of students in the system had dropped significantly.

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has put out some good research papers showing our province has a huge bureaucracy and that over $1 billion could be saved annually merely by bringing our large bureaucracy down to the national average.

But have you seen any attempts by the government to address either of these problems? Not really.

Our politicians seem to always be in the news throwing our money around at expensive press conferences instead of digging around for savings. One day it’s a fluffy announcement about heart defibrillators for the new stadium. The next they’re holding a contest to decide our province’s official fish.

Clearly they haven’t gotten the message that many are finding it hard to afford all their spending announcements. If you don’t start speaking out to convince our politicians to focus more on rolling up their sleeves and tackling the spending problem, more and more Manitobans will be rolling up their sleeves and loading moving boxes.

Can’t blame them though, the government here is just too expensive.