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Gas prices to rise in Manitoba

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WINNIPEG—Manitoba residents will be paying just over five cents more for a litre of gas after the carbon tax kicks in Sept. 1.

In its budget tabled yesterday, the government said the average household can expect about $240 in extra costs, which largely come from heating and transportation.

The Conservative government also outlined tax breaks for households and small businesses which it says will help soften the blow.

Finance minister Cameron Friesen acknowledged the impact of the carbon tax will be “felt in households across Manitoba.”

But he said the tax breaks should help.

“We are putting money back on the kitchen table of all Manitobans,” Friesen noted.

The carbon tax also will affect natural gas, diesel, and propane but marked fuel used in agriculture, mining, and forestry will be exempt.

The province has promised all carbon tax revenues will be returned to Manitobans through tax reductions, but that will take four years.

The budget included a reduction in ambulance fees to $340 from $425, which the Tories had promised in the 2016 election.

It also introduced a new income tax credit for companies that provide on-site child care of up to $10,000 per child over five years.

It's limited this year to 200 spaces.

At the same time, the government is cutting post-secondary funding by $6 million, or one percent.

Friesen said it works out to about $8 a month per student. Post-secondary institutions can make up the shortfall either through tuition increases or fundraising, he noted.

The government, meanwhile, is raising the basic personal exemption—the amount of money people can earn before they start paying income tax—by $2,000 to $11,400 by 2020.

The threshold for small businesses to start paying taxes also is being raised from $450,000 to $500,000.

“Small business is the backbone of our economy,” Friesen stressed.

The province projects a summary deficit of $521 million—down more than $200 million from the current year—but there was a lot more money to plan with.

Equalization payments from Ottawa are set to jump $217 million this year and the carbon tax, once it's in play, is expected to raise $250 million annually.

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