Manitoba budget maintains 50% school tax rebate for farm properties

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The Manitoba government is maintaining a 50 per cent school tax rebate for farm properties, while planning to collect an additional $148 million in school taxes from commercial and residential property owners.

On Tuesday, Premier Wab Kinew’s NDP government unveiled its first budget since being elected.

The budget forecasts a provincial deficit of $2 billion for 2023-24, with deficits of $796 million for 2024-25 and $532 million for 2025-26.

Keystone Agricultural Producers has lobbied for decades to have education taxes on farmland reduced and removed. The NDP budget includes plans to scrap the province’s school tax rebate on commercial properties, and to introduce a new “Homeowners Affordability Tax Credit” that will result in school tax savings for residences with assessed values under $437 thousand, while increasing the amount collected from homes worth more than that.

“While changes were made to the School Tax Rebate for residential properties, KAP is pleased to see the 50 per cent rebate maintained for farm properties,” said KAP general manager Brenna Mahoney, in a statement. “We encourage the province to continue working toward the complete removal of the tax on farm properties and that this is taken into account when developing the new provincial education funding model.”

KAP was pleased to see several commitments on the labour front, including the restoration of a rural doctor recruitment fund, $1.5 million to increase apprenticeship training seats, and $135 thousand for a new veterinary strategy to address the vet shortage in the province.

The province also committed to reopening two Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation centres that were closed by the previous PC government. The sites to be re-opened were not announced, as the budget said they are “to be chosen in consultation with the community.”

KAP also welcomed $146.9 million for BRM program funding, the creation of a Livestock Predation Prevention Strategy, extension of the gas tax removal by three months, freezing Ag Crown Land lease rates, and supports for young farmers.

“In particular, the lending fee credit through MASC for farmers under 40, increases to the Young Farmer Rebate loan amount to $300,000 and maximum rebate to $30,000 will provide significant benefits to the next generation of farmers,” noted KAP president and Portage-area farmer Jill Verwey. “That said, KAP would like to see further investment in highways and infrastructure prioritized through increased capital funding, as well as legislative amendments that would enable Right to Repair for farmers.”

Other notable items in the budget included a new $300 security camera rebate for families and businesses, a commitment to hire 1,000 new healthcare workers, and promises to create of new provincial strategies for trade and adding value to Manitoba farm products.

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