Bus fares, water fares and building permits among fee increases taking effect in Manitoba on January 1

Inflation won’t be the only thing hitting Manitobans’ pockets in the new year: several planned fee increases are set to take effect January 1.

Winnipeg Transit will increase the adult cash bus fare by five cents to $3.15, an increase of 1.16%. This comes with an extension of the WinnPASS program, which will offer a 50% discount discount for eligible youthwhich also begins on New Year’s Day.

The City of Winnipeg will also increase building permit fees. Base fees for new builds and additions will increase from $230 to $233.

Water and sewer rates will also increase on the first day of 2023. Water rates will increase by 5 cents, an increase of 2.5%, to $2 per cubic meter per quarter. Sewer rates will also rise by five cents, an increase of 1.7%, to $2.96 per cubic meter per quarter.

Canada Pension Plan contributions will increase by 7.3%, which could cost up to $255 per person per year.

EI premiums are expected to increase to 5.2%.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) estimates that the combined increases will cost businesses up to $325 more per employee.

The federation has called on the federal government to freeze CPP and EI premiums, which increase each year with the rate of inflation.

“It is important to note that the recovery from the pandemic has been very slow for many businesses,” said CFIB Provincial Director Kathleen Cook.

“In Manitoba, about half of local businesses still have pandemic-related debt that they now need to pay off. And 44% of small businesses in Manitoba say they are still below their normal pre-pandemic revenues.

Not all groups support the call for a CPP and EI premium freeze.

Molly McCracken, Manitoba director of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, says these contributions are aimed at helping people later in life.

« They need to increase so that people have enough money to take them out when they retire, and that’s designed to prevent old age poverty, » she said.

If a freeze on CPP and EI premiums isn’t possible, Cook says, the federation would like the federal government to offer a refundable tax credit to small businesses to offset the costs.

There are other things governments can do to help, says McCracken.

One option is to increase the minimum wage beyond what the provincial government has already provided. While the province has promised to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by October, McCracken said a living wage in Winnipeg is $18.34.

« It’s just the base salary that people would need to take home to cover the cost of living, housing — just a really basic way of life, » she said.

Expanding what is covered by public services, through social housing and public health care, and funding public transport, are other ways to ease the burden on people, especially those on low incomes and fixed income, says McCracken.


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