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Jim Carr - constructive voice

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In his last days as CEO as the Manitoba Business Council, Jim Carr met with Finance Minister Jennifer Howard to discuss the next budget, which is scheduled to be introduced March 6.

Carr submitted his resignation "to pursue other opportunities" effective Jan. 31.

The Selinger government has already sent a couple of signals of what Manitobans can expect in the coming budget, which will also shed some light on its plan to be out of deficit by 2017. The government has also warned public-sector contract awards will not be as rich as in the past.

Here's what Carr and the council think Howard should do: 

SUBMISSION TO MINISTER HOWARD IN PREPARATION FOR THE 2014 - 2015 BUDGET

Presented Jan. 23, 2014

Recommendations:


1. Use revenue collected from the one-per-cent increase in the Provincial Sales Tax only for core infrastructure expenditures.


2. Agree in principle that the payroll tax and any increase to CPP contributions are a disincentive to job growth and negatively impact economic growth. That the Government of Manitoba commit to reducing the payroll tax when the fiscal situation of this province improves.


3. Establish a tax commission to undertake a complete review of the Manitoba tax system.


4. Work cooperatively with the Government of Canada and use all streams of immigration to reach target levels.


5. Ensure the standard of settlement services for immigrants which has been transferred to the federal government is maintained at a high level.


6. Allow post-secondary institutions to set their own tuition rates and ancillary fees. The government should only intervene when a compelling argument can be made that fee increases are not in the public interest.


7. Increase the number of available bursaries to help offset higher tuition rates.


8. Integrate the work of COPSE within the Department of Education and Advanced Learning.


9. Jointly with the aboriginal community and the Business Council of Manitoba launch a series of pilot projects on and off reserve to strengthen the educational system for aboriginal students including development of appropriate curriculum and governance structures.


10. That the government of Manitoba in collaboration with others develop a provincial Early Childhood Development strategy and a new mechanism for government, community and business investment to support bold Early Childhood Development innovation projects.


11. Scrutinize all government programs to determine if they are necessary or if they could be delivered in a more cost efficient manner. Make use of lean continuous improvement techniques in all departments as part of this scrutiny.


12. Assess wages paid to civil servants and ensure that they correspond to the requirements of the job.


13. Reduce the size of the civil service through attrition and appropriate reallocations.


14. Continue to focus on productivity gains and service delivery improvement goals at Manitoba Health & the regional health authorities including the addition of new Quick Care clinics.


15. Focus on a new agreement with Doctor's Manitoba that does not exceed the Consumer Price Index.


16. The governments of Canada and Manitoba declare the Port of Churchill and the Hudson Bay Railway critical national infrastructure.


17. The governments of Canada and Manitoba reach an agreement on the construction of a winter road from the Port of Churchill to Rankin Inlet.


18. The government of Manitoba encourage the private sector to investigate the economic and environmental conditions necessary to move oil and natural gas through the Port of Churchill.


19. Manitoba Hydro's competitive environment has changed significantly. The Public Utilities Board, currently reviewing Hydro's capital development plans, should have all the tools and expertise necessary to ensure that its recommendations, and the government's subsequent decisions, are based on the best analysis to safeguard the province's future financial stability.

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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