WINNIPEG – Manitoba's prime minister, Brian Pallister, rejects the idea of sharing excise taxes on cannabis with municipalities and is sending strong signals that other funds for municipalities will remain tied.
"Is not it time we have a provincial government that understands that you can not just borrow and say yes to everything today, without consequences tomorrow?" Pallister told delegates Monday at the annual convention of the Association of Municipalities of Manitoba . .
"Rebalancing ourselves is a priority for us."
Pallister said the province faces fiscal challenges, such as rising interest rates and costly projects at Manitoba Hydro, owned by Crown. He promised to eliminate the deficit by 2024 after a series of deficits initiated by the former PND government in 2009.
Pallister gave no indication that municipal funding, which has been essentially frozen since the Conservatives took office in 2016, will increase next year. He also rejected a call from the badociation for a portion of the federal recreational cannabis tax after its legalization last month.
"There is no benefit to cannabis, and there is no evidence that there will be any gains for some time, so do not start asking for a portion of the profits when there are no profits," Pallister said after his speech.
Cannabis buyers are paying a special tax of $ 1 per gram or 10 percent of the price, whichever is greater. The federal government has offered to keep 25 percent of the money and give the rest to the provinces.
Pallister's message disappointed the municipal leaders, who said they have to deal with increased police costs and other expenses related to cannabis. The two-year freeze on municipal financing is also suffering, said badociation president Chris Goertzen.
"A two-year freeze does not recognize inflationary increases, and puts more financial and administrative pressure on us as municipalities," Goertzen told the convention.
Pallister hinted at new spending on infrastructure and said he was talking to the federal government about new projects. But, he added,
Some projects may be delayed due to threatened legal actions.
He pointed to a long-term planned exit on Lake Manitoba, which aimed to relieve flooding in the Interlake region. Pallister said the Toronto lawyers, whom he would not name, were in the region trying to find opposition to the work.
"I have advice for Bay St. attorneys in Toronto who approach the communities in Interlake and tell them that in case of contingency, they will make a lot of money threatening to delay these projects," said Pallister. He said.
"And my advice to those lawyers is – get a job, get a real job."