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By: Larry Kusch Posted: 03/23/2010 3:20 PM | Last Modified: 03/23/2010 4:02 PM
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/3/2010 (2616 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG - The Selinger government is boosting a host of user fees and delaying planned corporate and personal income tax cuts while hiking health and education spending over the next year.
It will also use its majority in the legislature to change the province’s balanced budget legislation to give it more flexibility to cope with the economic downturn. The amendments will allow the government to run deficits for four years before it is required to post a surplus in 2014.
Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk comments to media at the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday afternoon.
In her first budget since being named finance minister last fall, Rosann Wowchuk today projected a $545 million deficit for the coming fiscal year.
Spending will be reduced in half of all government departments, while 90 per cent of all new spending will go to health care, education and training, family services and justice.
"To free up these resources for front-line services, we are taking responsible steps to better manage costs," Wowchuk said.
Cabinet ministers will take a 20 per cent pay cut while MLAs and political staffers and senior bureaucrats will be asked to accept a two-year wage freeze. At the same time, the province plans to negotiate a "pause" in wage increases for rank-and-file civil servants.
Manitobans will not face increases in income tax and sales tax rates as the province attempts to put its books in order. But some planned tax cuts will be delayed.
The province plans to partially offset flagging income and corporate tax revenues by hiking a number of service fees. For example, the fee for filing a statement of claim will rise by $25 to $225. The fee to file a petition for a divorce will go up $15 to $150. Camping fees will also rise, although the province will carry through with a second year of free passes to provincial parks.
Wowchuk told reporters that without changing the balanced budget law – which now requires the province to balance the books on a four-year rolling average – the government would be forced to lay off workers, cut services and increase income taxes.
"During the last recession, governments made deep cuts to key services such as health care, education, training and supports for families. While these cuts may save dollars in the short term, the cost of repairing this neglect is much greater in the long term," Wowchuk said.
"Steady, stable investments today will make sure we protect the services Manitobans rely on most."
The government will:
Read more by Larry Kusch.
Updated on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 3:14 PM CDT: Updates expected time of release of budget details.
3:30 PM: Updates with budget details.
4:02 PM: Removes live video player -- Highlights video will be added later.
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