New provincial spending announced after tax windfall
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The Manitoba government will direct more cash to hospitals, municipal infrastructure, schools and community development after receiving an unexpected $150-million windfall in tax revenue.
Premier Heather Stefanson announced $140 million in spending for nine municipal projects, alongside Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham at city hall Friday morning.
“Families and individuals are not the only ones feeling the strain on their finances,” Stefanson said. “Municipalities and communities across our province are facing inflationary pressures that impact their ability to deliver important projects and services that Manitobans rely and depend on.”
The Progressive Conservative government is eager to work with municipalities on infrastructure projects, the premier said.
As part of the $140-million municipal spending package, Stefanson said a previously announced $40-million commitment for the CentrePort area water and wastewater project has been finalized.
The remaining $100 million will be divided between eight projects in rural communities, including Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Morden and Winkler.
In October, Stefanson said the province would fund the project and called on the federal Liberal government to pitch in.
“We have called on the federal government to be an equal funding partner in this critical infrastructure project for our city and our province, and I’m still hopeful that they will come to the table, but it’s important that this investment be made now. And that is, of course, why we’re here today,” Stefanson said Friday.
The funding for municipal water and wastewater projects is part of an $850-million spending envelope approved by the provincial government through a special spending warrant in mid-January.
In a briefing with reporters Friday, provincial finance officials said revenues have improved by about $150 million since the mid-year fiscal update in December. At that time, the province had forecast a $1.12-billion increase in revenues for the provincial treasury, with income tax and sales tax revenues more than eight per cent above budget.
The previously unallocated revenue — the majority of which was accounted for in the province’s mid-year fiscal update — will also be spent on the $200-million inflation relief program announced Thursday, which will have cheques sent to most adult Manitobans in the coming weeks.
The balance of the special spending warrant will be spent on health care ($140.5 million), Ukrainian temporary resident supports ($50 million), community development and economic recovery ($120 million), and funding for COVID-19 expenses and other contingencies, including education and Hudson Bay rail line improvements ($178.8 million).
The City of Winnipeg will also spend $20 million to complete the water project at CentrePort.
“I’m very, very pleased and grateful today to hear the provincial contribution is secured and will be advanced shortly,” Gillingham said, noting the money will cover tenders for detailed design work and finalizing land acquisitions.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
Additional spending on health care includes $71.2 million for hospitals, $2 million for cost pressures related to blood transfusion, and increases to the cost of administering pharmacare of about $67 million.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
Updated on Friday, January 27, 2023 11:34 AM CST: Updates with writethrough