Manitoba’s debt is rising by $72 a second, or about $6.25 million a day, and that’s too fast, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Today, the CTF rolled out a large mobile "debt clock" to the grounds of the Legislative Building to draw attention to the ballooning debt.
Colin Craig, the CTF’s Prairie director, said the province’s total borrowings and obligations, including those of Crown corporations, stands at more than $28.5 billion and will exceed $30 billion by the end of the fiscal year.
"That’s a huge amount of money," said Craig, who was flanked by Tory finance critic Myrna Driedger and Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard at a news conference.
Craig said the taxpayers federation isn’t suggesting that Manitoba is going to go bankrupt like Detroit — "yet" — but that its spending levels are unsustainable.
He said there are several things it could do — big and small — to improve the situation. The first would be to set an example to the bureaucracy by reducing the size of cabinet, which has three more members than when Gary Doer left office in 2009.
"Reducing that would send a good strong signal to the bureaucracy that it’s time to really get serious about getting spending under control so that we don’t have to support tax increases," he said.
The government should also get the bureaucracy down "to a reasonable size" and reduce its pension liability by "starting to put new employees in a more sustainable and risky pension plan."
The taxpayers federation is also concerned about Manitoba Hydro’s ambitious plans to build costly new hydroelectric generating stations in the North at a time when expanded natural gas production in the United States has reduced the price of electricity there.