Manitobans pick government services over tax cuts and a balanced budget in survey


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The results of a new poll show that Manitobans value the maintenance of government services over tax cuts and a balanced budget.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/04/2015 (2797 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The results of a new poll show that Manitobans value the maintenance of government services over tax cuts and a balanced budget.

Finance Minister Greg Dewar will table his budget April 30. He has been under pressure by business interests to reduce taxes and live up to a government commitment to get its books in the black by 2016.

But according to a Probe Research survey for the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU), more Manitobans — 45 per cent — are saying their top priority is for the province to maintain public services, even if it means a delay in balancing its budget.

And 22 per cent say the government’s top priority should be to stimulate the economy and help create jobs.

Meanwhile, only 15 per cent said the province’s No. 1 priority should be cutting taxes, while 16 per cent said its main focus should be balancing the books.

Question: The Manitoba government will unveil the 2015 budget in the coming months where it will outline how it plans to spend public dollars over the next year. I’m going to read to you a list of potential priorities for the budget. Please tell me which one of the following summarizes what you believe should be the Manitoba government’s top priority for this year’s budget?


Methodology: The question was part of an omnibus survey conducted by Probe Research between March 17 and April 1. A total of 1,005 Manitobans were questioned at random. The results are considered to be accurate within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Women (57%) were more likely than men (32%) to rate the maintenance of public services as their No. 1 budget priority. NDP supporters (58%) were also likely than Progressive Conservative backers (28%) to do so, according to the Probe poll.

Some 30 per cent of PC supporters said the government should balance its budget — even if it meant service cuts — compared to only eight per cent of NDPers who felt this way.

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said the union is “very much concerned” about possible departmental spending cuts and lost jobs in the upcoming budget. She said that’s not what Manitobans want and the poll shows that.

“It’s consistent with what Manitobans have told us when I’m out on the road, when I’m talking to them publicly,” she said.

Although the union-commissioned poll may appear to be self-serving, Probe said the questions were not slanted to elicit a certain response.

“When we structure the questionnaire we make sure that there isn’t anything that biases these results,” said Curtis Brown, the company’s vice-president. “We go over the wording of it. We make sure that we’re comfortable with it. We try to make sure that the wording will stand up to public scrutiny.”

The MGEU said that based on polling and the advice of its membership, the government should commit to protecting public services even though it means taking longer to balance the budget. That was the position of NDP leadership candidates Theresa Oswald and Steve Ashton during the party’s recent leadership campaign, while Premier Greg Selinger refused to back off his promise to balance the books by 2016. (That vow was made after the premier broke a previous promise to balance the budget by 2014.)

The union also called on the NDP to resist any further privatization of government services and to delay implementation of its planned seniors property tax rebate until the budget is balanced.

Also as part of the poll, Manitobans were asked to evaluate two ideas for eliminating the province’s deficit.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled supported increasing personal and corporate taxes for large corporations and individuals earning more than $200,000 a year. Meanwhile, only 30 per cent were in favour of privatizing public services, according to the poll.


Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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