THE Selinger government plans to make winter tires more affordable for Manitoba drivers.
In her budget today, Finance Minister Jennifer Howard will announce that Manitoba Public Insurance will soon introduce a low-cost loan program to make it easier for drivers to buy the high-traction tires.
Winter tires are regarded as superior to all-season tires when it comes to braking in snow and ice. Their use is recommended by groups such as the Canadian Automobile Association.
"We know winter tires can help reduce collisions on Manitoba roads and make families safer," a government source said.
"But we also know the cost of winter tires prevents some from making this purchase."
Details of the MPI program will be announced at a later date, the source said.
The budget will focus on such themes as building infrastructure, finding government efficiencies, creating jobs and opportunities for young people, and making life more affordable for families.
The government has already hinted at several of its budget decisions, including details of its proposed infrastructure spending and a plan to delay full implementation of a property tax credit to seniors.
Howard has also ruled out any new major taxes in today's economic blueprint.
The government will not make winter tires mandatory. It prefers to offer incentives, the government source said.
MPI says winter tires make vehicles safer by helping drivers to stop more quickly and avoid sliding on ice and snow.
Winter tires are made of soft compounds that remain flexible at lower temperatures, improving braking distance. They also have directional tread designs that help maintain traction on snowy, wet and slush-covered roads.
The public insurer says collision claims in the winter are nearly 50 per cent higher than in the spring and summer.
This winter has so far seen collision and injury claims jump 17 per cent in December from the same month the previous year.
There were more than 16,000 collision claims in January.
The Ontario-based Rubber Association of Canada, which represents 14 tire-makers, has said Manitoba drivers lag behind the nation in switching to winter tires, with only 20 per cent of the province's motorists opting in.
A set of four winter tires on average costs about $1,000.
Quebec is the only province with legislation that makes winter tires mandatory.