Premier suggests scrapping rebates for companies like Loblaw could put them ‘out of business’ in Manitoba

Manitoba’s premier responded to criticism of her government for sending hundreds of thousands of dollars in education property tax rebates to corporations like Loblaw by suggesting on Tuesday that ending those rebates could amount to putting such companies “out of business in this province.”

Heather Stefanson made the comments during question period after Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said Manitoba gave a rebate of $325,000 to the company that owns stores like Real Canadian Superstore and No Frills. 

“The company that the leader of the Opposition is referring to employs more than 3,000 Manitobans … and he’s talking about putting them out of business in this province,” Stefanson said.

“Millions of dollars of tax revenue that we get as a government from this very corporation that the leader of the Opposition is talking about, and he’s talking about shutting them down in the province of Manitoba.”

Kinew pushed back on that idea, saying that such a profitable company shouldn’t need the rebate cheque to stay afloat.

“There is no risk that this company goes out of business,” he said.

“A company owned by Galen Weston, which is so wildly profitable, should not get an extra $325,000 from this PC government — especially not when that $325,000 is being taken from revenue that is supposed to fund public schools.”

A man wears a navy suit and white shirt, his black hair pulled back. He speaks into a microphone.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew said a company as profitable as Loblaw shouldn’t need a rebate cheque to stay afloat. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The update comes a day after the NDP presented calculations that it said show Superstore locations in Winnipeg and Brandon collected $300,000 in rebates in a recent year. CBC News has not independently verified these figures nor the one presented on Tuesday.

The NDP also said on Monday while it would keep the education property tax rebates if elected, it would do away with them for some commercial property owners. But Kinew wouldn’t reveal how his government would determine which owners of commercial properties are entitled to the rebate, other than to state “I think local is key.”

After question period on Tuesday, Kinew told reporters he’s not worried that businesses like Loblaw might choose to leave or scale back investments in Manitoba based on potentially losing the rebate.

“This company is hugely profitable and they didn’t ask for this handout from the PCs. So what we’re saying is that this company will still be wildly profitable,” he said.

“Why don’t we use these resources to invest in our public schools, especially when we hear educators saying that education is underfunded in Manitoba?”

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