The Pallister government underspent several of its COVID-19 support programs in the last fiscal year, including one where it failed to give out any money, budget documents reveal.
Even though it set aside $46 million, the province spent only $18.7 million on a back-to-work initiative and summer student recovery jobs program.
A $10-million program announced last fall to provide pandemic staffing support payments to eligible non-profit organizations in the child welfare, adult disability services and child care sectors paid out only $489,000.
A program in which a private contractor provided call-centre support for businesses cost $2.9 million rather than the budgeted $7.4 million.
The Hometown Green Team Program, which provided funding for organizations to hire youth aged 15 to 29 for summer jobs, saw $1.5 million of its budget $4.2 million spent.
The Building Sustainable Communities Program, which funded community development and recreational projects, was underspent by $1.7 million.
The Restart Manitoba Event Attraction Strategy program, which sported an $8-million price tag, didn’t allocate a dime. The program was to maximize the potential for communities to host large-scale meetings, conventions and events, while balancing "health public health considerations."
Budget documents show the government spent $430.9 million on COVID-19 support programs for businesses and non-profit organizations in 2020-21 and $409 million on programs for individuals.
The government counted Manitoba Public Insurance rebates to both individuals and commercial customers as part of its COVID-19 assistance. It also counted the elimination of the PST on property insurance as pandemic help.
The government said it spent $208.6 million of the $215 million allotted for its Bridge Grant to businesses. It said it also spent all $59.1 million allocated for the Gap Protection Plan, which was originally budgeted as a $120-million initiative.
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.