Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/5/2016 (347 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Premier Brian Pallister says Manitobans should expect a provincial budget in a little over two weeks -- once the new administration has a better understanding of the state of the province’s finances.
He said while it’s common for incoming governments to say that things are worse than they thought they would be, it’s true of the financial situation the Progressive Conservatives are inheriting from the NDP.
"It’s worse than we thought. It’s definitely worse than we thought," he told reporters after his 40-member caucus was sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Legislative Building. (Cabinet ministers took their oaths of office more than a week ago, but they had yet to be sworn in as MLAs.)
Pallister would not say how big an operating deficit the PCs are inheriting, adding that this assessment is still being carried out.
In a fiscal update just before the election, the Selinger government estimated the 2015-2016 operating deficit at $773 million. For the current year, it projected a deficit of $619 million.
Pallister said his transition team had been seeking a lot of financial information from the provincial bureaucracy, and that work will continue now that the government is sworn in.
"Members of our civil service, in particular treasury board and finance officials, are coming up with the information we’re asking for. But we continue to have reason to inquire further on a number of fronts," he said.
Asked about the timing of the budget, Pallister said it would be "approximately two weeks after the throne speech," which is set for Monday.
He suggested that the new government will be restricted somewhat by the financial predicament that it inherits.
"Our fiscal strategies, going forward, are obviously going to be, to some extent, remedial to try to get ourselves back on track in terms of managing (the province’s finances) sustainably," the premier said.
Meanwhile, Pallister commented briefly Wednesday on a report by the Manitoba Children’s Advocate this week which said that hundreds of kids in care were moved seven or more times in a single year.
Asked for his reaction, the premier said: "We’re deeply displeased. Obviously, we’re concerned. A vital role of our government is to protect the best interests of vulnerable children."
He said the government would take "some immediate steps" to help caregivers do "a better job."
The Tories promised during the election, for instance, to introduce legislation to make it easier for government departments, child and family service authorities and law enforcement agencies to share information and collaborate when dealing with victimized and at-risk children.
"That won’t solve the problem immediately," Pallister said. "But it will move us in the direction, I hope, of better services that are more effectively provided. And that’s the goal we all share."