Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 12/11/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The Selinger government will take two more years than previously planned to balance the province's books.
Premier Greg Selinger and his financial lieutenant, Stan Struthers, told the Free Press on Monday their new target for getting Manitoba out of the red is the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Until last month, the government had stuck to a more than two-year-old pledge to balance the books by 2014-15. But in backing off that promise -- on the day of the throne speech -- the province had not set a new timetable.
Selinger will detail the government's thinking behind the new fiscal target when he presents his annual state of the province address at the Winnipeg Convention Centre today. The event is sponsored by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
The premier said Monday the new timeline is based on continued global economic uncertainty.
"The reality is that we're seeing a global recovery which is fitful and uncertain and, on the evidence, seems to be slower than previous recessions," Selinger said, noting the federal government and virtually every other Canadian province is in the same boat.
A month ago, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty amended his timetable for putting the nation's finances back into the black. Instead of a balanced budget by 2015-16, Flaherty said it would take Ottawa another year to reach its goal.
Selinger will explain to the chamber today lower projected economic growth, growing health, corrections and family services costs and the effects of federal belt-tightening are behind the new timeline.
The government refuses to entertain deep budget cuts to balance the books. Instead, it will attempt to put the brakes on spending growth while focusing on skills training to prepare the economy for an impending mass retirement of baby boomers.
"Our plan is that every year we're going to reduce that gap between our revenues and our expenditures. We've been working on that; we're going to continue to work on that," Struthers said.
Manitoba ran a record $999-million deficit in 2011-12, in part because of the devastating 2011 Assiniboine River flood.
This spring, Struthers projected a $460-million deficit for the current fiscal year. Manitobans will get the opportunity to assess whether the government is on track to meet that target when the province releases its second-quarter financial report as early as next week.
The delay in wiping out the deficit could mean the NDP will face an election without balancing the books.
Under the province's fixed-date election rules, Manitobans will go to the polls on April 19, 2016. The date might be moved up to Oct. 6, 2015, if Ottawa abandons plans for a federal vote that same month. Manitoba passed legislation earlier this year to avoid the spectacle of both a federal and provincial vote within weeks of each other.
The Progressive Conservatives, under Hugh McFadyen, were pilloried during the last provincial election for suggesting Manitoba's books could not be balanced before 2018 without tax hikes or cuts to front-line services. The Tories also said at the time the NDP was underestimating the budgetary impact of the 2011 flood.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 A5
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
RCMP investigate bee deaths in Manitoba
Beautiful buildings, bad planning dominate discussions at mayoral forum
Jackson croons his way into hearts of country-lovin' MTS centre crowd
Knife-wielding driver subdued at scene of crash
More boats in the water, more chances of finding something: Nepinak on Drag the Red River
Over 2,000 homes threatened in California fire
Province giving $100K to help with Ebola
CFL needs to follow NFL's lead, adopt policy against domestic abuse
Hustler and Lawless: Live at the News Café
Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger to split?
Replay: News Café hosts mayoral forum on urban planning
Wanted: top pot grower
Bowman offers up solutions to city's infrastructure woes
Rob Ford devastated by rare-cancer diagnosis
Mayoral candidates offer no vision for city: Chamber of Commerce
Bones discovered on riverbank still have to be examined
Vogiatzakis hoping to appeal to get on mayoral ballot
Steeves would boost speed limit signage, takes aim at photo-radar
Manitoba sees net gain of MDs over 2013
Fed keeps rates low, but brace for the inevitable
Harbouring runaway stymies CFS
Fielding will be PC candidate for Kirkfield Park
Soprano Gauvin earns bravas at MCO season opener
Expect lots of new faces on Winnipeg school boards
Streets near Forks closed Friday for CMHR opening ceremonies
Vigier analyzes Maurice's likely impact as Jets head coach
Rally to shed light on African Ebola epidemic
Collision in Brokenhead proves fatal
Searchers find bones near river
Extra blast of summer-like weather headed our way
Vikings reconsider, put Peterson on paid leave
Candidates offer food for thought
Orange is the new black
Scratching a seven-year itch
Big break in ambush probe: suspect's abandoned SUV
Comic books take over TV with four new series
Muskox makes rare appearance in Manitoba
Judy W-L vows to help spur ideas
One journey ends, another begins
A fond farewell to my buddy, Dale