Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson launched an election campaign Tuesday and promised more tax cuts if her Progressive Conservatives are re-elected Oct. 3.
“Manitobans need real relief and a real long-term commitment to affordability in the future,” Stefanson told a news conference flanked by cheering Tory candidates. She had earlier visited Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville to have the writ for the election dropped.
A re-elected Tory government would cut the lowest provincial income tax bracket in half over four years. Stefanson said. The move would save the average person earning $50,000 in annual income $1,900 per year when fully implemented in 2028, she added.
Stefanson also promised to remove the federally imposed carbon price on hydro bills within 10 days of being re-elected. The price is applied to natural gas, which many Manitobans use for heat, not to electricity, which comes from hydroelectric generation.
Opinion polls have suggested Stefanson faces an uphill battle. Support for the Tories dropped sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic and health-care wait times remain long.
The Opposition New Democrats have been leading in the polls, especially in Winnipeg where most legislature seats are concentrated. They have promised to reopen three emergency departments in the city that the Tories downgraded to urgent care centres, which are not aimed at dealing with life-threatening issues such as heart attacks.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew started his campaign a day early on Monday, and promised to hire more health-care professionals and reduce wait times.
The Manitoba Liberal Party is seeking to add to the three legislature seats it currently holds, which is not enough for official party status.
The party, running its second campaign under leader Dougald Lamont, faced a setback Tuesday as former federal Liberal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy supported Kinew.
In a front-page newspaper ad taken out by the NDP, Axworthy stated that Kinew “can provide a caring, conscientious governance”.