Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mixed reviews for deficit-busting budget

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IF a nearly $26-billion deficit constitutes "weathering the storm," Tricia Schers would hate to see what a bad-news budget looks like.

The tourism industry worker said government spokespeople continually talk about Canada performing better than other countries in the current challenging economic times but she's not so sure.

"It ($25.9 billion) still sounds like a lot," she said at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Thursday afternoon.

Caleb Screpnek was also concerned about the government's ability to live within its means, particularly after the deficit rose nearly $5 billion from a year ago.

"I'm more in favour of austerity than furthering government spending. (Finance Minister Jim Flaherty) should be cutting spending on unnecessary services. With each cycle of economic growth, you have to change people's expectations of what entitlements are realistic," he said.

Real estate investor Jesse Landon was looking a little further out. He said he was pleased to see the government's forecast calls for the deficit to fall to $18.7 billion this year and $6.6 billion next year before being balanced by 2015-16.

"I like their fiscal responsibility. It shows long-sighted responsibility instead of short-term thinking," he said.

Landon was also pleased to see Flaherty announce a renewed infrastructure fund worth $47 billion over 10 years, starting in 2014.

"I think infrastructure is paramount to a city's growth," he said.

Screpnek said he realizes the CBC is unlikely to see its funding increased under the Harper government, but he was just hoping to see its budget left alone.

"They've been on the chopping block before," he said.

He was also hoping to see an increase in funding for public transportation, which he believes is overpriced in Winnipeg.

"I just spent a year in Belgium. It's $30 a month cheaper there for subways and buses that are on time," he said.

After perusing a synopsis of the budget, Schers said most of the initiatives don't apply to her.

"I'm kind of underwhelmed. I don't feel there's a lot in this budget for me personally," she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 A1

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Updated on Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 7:54 PM CDT: Edits name.

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