Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Manitoba has challenges ahead, says finance minister

  • Print

Manitoba's Finance Minister started off his Saturday buying a new pair of shoes in advance of Tuesday's new provincial budget, Struthers first as lead minister in charge of the province's piggybank.

Stan Struthers bought the shoes at Gardner's Lifestyle Fashions in his home town of Dauphin, a gesture he says gives a nod to rural business growth not only in Dauphin, but other towns throughout Manitoba.

"There's a big resurgence," Struthers said Saturday. "We here in Dauphin think we're on a roll. We're feeling pretty confident."

Struthers will present the Selinger government's new budget Tuesday afternoon, a blueprint of spending priorities for the coming year.

The albatross around Struthers' neck, though, is the government's $1.1-billion deficit, a large part of it being the cost of flighting last year's widespread flooding -- a cost which rises each day with the ongoing cleanup and rebuilding. The province has spent more than $500 million in compensation under various programs so far.

"There's no doubt we have some challenges before us," Struthers said, adding economic pressures in Europe and the United States still pose a risk to the province's economic growth.

"It has an impact on our bottom line," he said.

However, Struthers said his budget will lay out a spending plan to wipe out the deficit by 2014, a date promised by the NDP before the flood hit, without sacrificing services.

He said that plan won't come at the expense of cuts to health care, eduction and infrastructure renewal, or be a carbon copy of the Harper government's recent budget that this week saw the announced closure of the Cereal Research Centre at the University of Manitoba and "workforce adjustment letters" sent to more than 775 Public Service Alliance of Canada workers in the three Prairie provinces.

Ottawa is also pulling out of a longtime agreement to provide shared settlement services for immigrants to the province, ending a program that until now has been successful in seeing increased immigration to the province.

"I think the people have voted for a government that will be steady and responsible," Struthers said. "They didn't vote for a government who will do damage to our economy. In spite of the backwards approach coming out of Ottawa, we will protect health care, education and infrastructure."

Critics of the NDP, including Progressive Conservative leadership challenger Brian Pallister, say the NDP is hiding behind the costs of fighting the flood to mask increased spending in areas such as family services and justice, two areas in which spending has been above budget. Critics also want the province to focus more effort on child poverty, such as increasing welfare rates, and on infrastructure renewal, like adding a one per cent increase to the province's sales tax.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Watch live streaming video from winnipegfreepress1 at livestream.com
History

Updated on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 1:53 PM CDT: adds video

Fact Check

Fact Check

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.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets' coach discusses team's loss to Red Wings

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Would you visit Dalnavert Museum if it reopened?

View Results

Ads by Google