Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Taking a hit

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Government departments to see decreased spending over the next year and why:

 

Immigration and Community Development

Spending is to drop 57 per cent in a department once highlighted as the charm of the provincial government and the work it did bringing immigrants to Manitoba.

However, last year's public row between federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and the Selinger government, and Ottawa's taking over of settlement services, dramatically altered the role local immigration services play in bringing people and families to the province. Manitoba's immigration fell 16 per cent to 13,391 in 2012 from the previous year.

 

Conservation and Waterstewardship

Spending is to decrease 6.2 per cent as the department responsible for the province's wild spaces and parks continues to tighten its belt. Over the past year the department has reduced operating expenses by 10 per cent. It has also reduced the amount of grants it awards for items like wildlife protection. The department is hiking the cost of a fishing licence to $10 from $5 in part to direct proceeds to pay upgrades to its fisheries program. Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Manitoba, said the department should look at public-private partnership initiatives to maintain parks.

 

Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs

Spending is to drop 4.1 per cent in a department responsible for getting Manitobans more active, to wear bicycle helmets and protect consumers from questionable business practices. The cuts are coming as some of its educational or awareness programs are winding up not to be renewed or if they are, certainly not at the same funding level. The department is also changing how it funds outside agencies like the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba. Funding to the AFM will continue, but instead through the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation and Manitoba Liquor Control Commission, which was merged in last year's budget to save money.

 

Other government departments

Nine other government departments are to see their budgets squeezed in the coming fiscal year, everything from Aboriginal and Northern Affairs to Sport to Infrastructure and Transportation. The province will accomplish this by leaving unfilled positions vacant and continuing to reduce the size of the civil service as announced in the throne speech last November. The province hopes to save money by cutting 600 provincial civil service jobs through attrition and retirement over the next three years. Finance Minister Stan Struthers said cuts to some of these departments means the province will have less grant money to award over the next year.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2013 ??65535

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