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This article was published 9/4/2011 (3849 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's thriving economy can be summed up in two words: IKEA and Target, Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk said Saturday.
The two retail juggernauts are coming to Winnipeg because they see Manitoba's economy is growing and people have money to spend, Wowchuk said.
"People look at this province as a place to invest," she told party faithful at the NDP's annual convention in Winnipeg Saturday.
"I know that there are some people that are very excited about IKEA coming to Winnipeg and Target coming to Winnipeg. They're not coming to Winnipeg because they have money to spend. They're coming to Winnipeg and Manitoba because they see this as a thriving economy."
"People are working and they have more money to spend and that's what it is about."
U.S. retail giant Target Corp. recently struck a $1.8-billion deal to acquire up to 200 Zellers stores from Hudson's Bay Co. over the next three years.
IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, plans to open a 350,000-square-foot store sometime in 2012 or 2013 in a new retail development at Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway.
"Obviously, when those people are talking about coming here there is an interest in our economy and people see that we're doing well," she said.
Wowchuk's words come on the eve of Tuesday's provincial budget, the last before the general election on Oct. 4.
On Saturday, she defended her government's spending plan unveiled last year during the global recession, a plan that calls for five deficit budgets before the government's books are back in the black.
However, because the recession didn't strike Manitoba as hard as other provinces, she said the economic forecast has been revised for the better. At the same time, the population is growing because of immigration, housing starts are up and unemployment remains low.
"We came in better than we predicted last year and our numbers are better as we put the budget forward this year," she said.
Hugh McFadyen's Progressive Conservatives have hammered the NDP over its consecutive deficit budgets and its spending. The Tories say more should be done to cut back without jeopardizing jobs and services. McFadyen has often pointed to the $3.28-billion Hydro Bipole III transmission line as a wasteful decision, saying the new line should be built down the east side of the province rather than the longer and more expensive route on the west side.
"We are hoping to see progress in some key areas," McFadyen said Saturday about the budget. "More resources to deal with rising violent crime. More resources for frontline health care, and not more health bureaucracy. Finally, some effort to deal with waste and mismanagement in government spending."
Wowchuk said despite the higher-than-anticipated government revenue, the province will stick to its five-year plan.
She said if the province starts paying down the deficit more quickly, it would sacrifice jobs and services.
"If you look at the numbers, Manitoba didn't decline as much as other jurisdictions," she added. "We've grown more slowly, but it's steady."
She also said Tuesday's provincial budget will demonstrate the NDP's five-year plan is working as Manitoba counts down to an election campaign.
"If you've got a plan and if you're making progress and your economy is growing... that's a good thing," she said.