Budget 2017

Road to recovery paved with infrastructure investment

Chris Lorenc 5 minute read Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017

The Pallister government’s recent announcements on cost controls in public services had many wondering how bad the news from the 2017-18 budget speech would get. Yet the reaction coming from the legislature Tuesday was more of relief, not anguish.

The reactions of some groups (students, public-service unions) would differ, but most of those poring over budget papers found it to be middle-of-the-road stuff. Restraint? Yes. Austerity? Nope.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen is controlling costs. Overall expenditures by core government departments this year will rise by 2.7 per cent over last year’s forecasted expenditures. Friesen has delivered on the central goal of wrestling with the deficit, cutting the budgeted summary deficit to $840 million this year.

So, with its second budget, the Pallister government has announced it has moved beyond “correcting the course” to “responsible recovery.”

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Bowman content after Tory budget

Aldo Santin 3 minute read Preview

Bowman content after Tory budget

Aldo Santin 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

If Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman is concerned about the amount of funding the province will provide to Winnipeg for the coming year, he certainly isn’t showing it.

Bowman told reporters Wednesday that he’s pleased the provincial budget demonstrates the “strong partnership” relationship between the city and Broadway is continuing, in the absence of any concrete funding amounts detailed in the budget and without knowing if the Building Manitoba Fund will be renewed — or for what amount — or even if the province will provide any financial assistance to regulate the taxi industry once the Manitoba Taxicab Board is phased out.

Bowman said he’s simply pleased the province didn’t gut funding to the city.

“We were anticipating the likelihood of deep cuts and we didn’t see that,” Bowman said. “I want to recognize there weren’t deep cuts (in the provincial budget) to the City of Winnipeg.”

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Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Mayor Brian Bowman speaks with media after the budget was delivered in the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday.

Budget stops bleeding and gets province on right path, Friesen assures business crowd

Larry Kusch 3 minute read Preview

Budget stops bleeding and gets province on right path, Friesen assures business crowd

Larry Kusch 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen has a message for critics who say Tuesday's budget didn't go far enough to slay a huge government operating deficit.

It could have been worse.

Speaking to a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce breakfast Wednesday, Friesen said the government was on a trajectory to incur a $1.2-billion deficit this fiscal year.

He told the crowd of 300 that it took considerable effort to battle that trend and instead project an $840-million shortfall, a modest improvement from last year's $872-million provincial deficit.

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Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen talks about the budget at a Manitoba Chambers of Commerce breakfast Wednesday morning at The Fairmont Hotel. (Boris Minkevich / Winnipeg Free Press)

Pallister detours from expected route

Editorial 3 minute read Preview

Pallister detours from expected route

Editorial 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

You can’t get there from here.

It’s one of those navigational notations no traveller wants to hear — a tacit confirmation you unwittingly may have been headed in the wrong direction.

The government of Premier Brian Pallister seems to have reached one of those moments of realization with its 2017 budget, charting a financial course for Manitoba that appears to be headed somewhere other than the balanced-budget destination promised in the Progressive Conservatives’ 2016 election campaign.

It’s highly unlikely the Tories can get there from here — at least not within the time frame that’s been promised in the “Responsible Recovery” budget document.

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Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen delivers the budget in the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday.

Pallister’s balancing act

Dan Lett  7 minute read Preview

Pallister’s balancing act

Dan Lett  7 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

With the tabling of the second budget from Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government, we can see clearly now there are two distinct personalities vying for control of Premier Brian Pallister’s brain.

There is “the end is near” Pallister, the premier who spent most of the last year sounding the alarm about a growing fiscal crisis that was threatening to swamp the province in a tidal wave of debt. This is the Pallister who ordered the layoffs of senior managers across government and threatened to re-open contracts with civil servants to exact wage concessions.

Then, there is “we can have it all” Pallister, the one who told Manitobans during the 2016 election campaign he could deliver a balanced budget, lower taxes and the best government services in the country as long as he was elected premier. This Pallister told voters there was no need for austerity to get us where we needed to go, just intestinal fortitude.

The budget tabled this week gives us a glimpse into both Pallisters.

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Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Premier Brian Pallister after the budget was delivered in the legislature Tuesday. The document’s language is designed to ease worries over austerity measures.

Critics call modest increase in health-care spending a bitter pill to swallow

Kevin Rollason 3 minute read Preview

Critics call modest increase in health-care spending a bitter pill to swallow

Kevin Rollason 3 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Just days after the Pallister government diagnosed Winnipeg can do without half of its emergency departments, the provincial budget has prescribed a modest increase in health-care spending.

But critics say it will be a bitter pill for Manitobans to swallow.

The province is increasing the $6.1-billion health budget by $107.5 million. It works out to be a 1.8 per cent increase from last year, but it is smaller than the 2.1 per cent increase in the province’s overall budget.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said overall health-care spending makes up almost half the province’s budget, yet Manitobans are still faced with hours waiting in emergency rooms and on waiting lists for certain types of surgery.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Concordia is one of three city hospitals losing its emergency department.

Spending up on flood infrastructure, down on highways, education, housing

Nick Martin 4 minute read Preview

Spending up on flood infrastructure, down on highways, education, housing

Nick Martin 4 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Flood control projects will get substantially more money this year -- but infrastructure spending is dropping in most areas of highways, health, education and housing.

The Pallister government kept its promise in Tuesday’s provincial budget of spending at least $1 billion annually on strategic infrastructure.

Water-related infrastructure spending was $40 million last year, and this year Infrastructure Minister Blaine Pedersen has $60 million to spend.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said in his budget speech that the province will invest “in flood protection, drainage, and other water control infrastructure.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

“We inherited a mess,” said Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said. “You can subtract schools and overpasses you could have done if you weren’t paying money lenders in Toronto." (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Manitoba budget 2017: A breakdown of the government’s priorities

Graeme Bruce and Kevin Rollason 5 minute read Preview

Manitoba budget 2017: A breakdown of the government’s priorities

Graeme Bruce and Kevin Rollason 5 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Salary cost-cutting runs throughout the Progressive Conservative government’s second budget, billed as “responsible recovery” with modest spending increases in key areas of health, education, justice and infrastructure.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Who takes a hit

Kelly Taylor 3 minute read Preview

Who takes a hit

Kelly Taylor 3 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Post-secondary educationUniversities and community colleges will see their provincial grants virtually frozen for 2017, leaving institutions largely responsible for recovering any expenditure increases, such as those driven by inflation.

Operating grants and strategic initiative spending increases slightly to $681.69 million from $679.79 million, spending on access programs is unchanged at $11,298, and advanced education and training assistance increases slightly to $6.38 million from $6.27 million.

Manitoba graduatesThe tuition fee tax rebate — designed to keep graduated students from leaving the province — will be phased out. The rebate drops from $2,500 to $500 immediately and will be eliminated entirely in 2018. The advanced tuition fee rebate, which allowed students to apply for future rebates in advance, is eliminated immediately.

The province found little sign the rebate was anything more than a gift to graduates who were planning to stay in Manitoba after graduation anyway.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Universities and community colleges will see their provincial grants virtually frozen for 2017.

Winners and losers in Manitoba's budget

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Preview

Winners and losers in Manitoba's budget

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government released its 2017-18 budget Tuesday. Here is a look at some of the winners and losers:

Winners:

Current taxpayers: Budget contains no new increases to personal or business taxes.

Future taxpayers: Overall deficit is $840 million, but that is $32 million less than last year.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government released its 2017-18 budget Tuesday. Here is a look at some of the winners and losers:

Winners:

Current taxpayers: Budget contains no new increases to personal or business taxes.

Future taxpayers: Overall deficit is $840 million, but that is $32 million less than last year.

No new taxes, but relief is minor

Kelly Taylor 4 minute read Preview

No new taxes, but relief is minor

Kelly Taylor 4 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Hurry up and wait: that’s the message for taxpayers hoping for significant relief in the 2017 budget.

The province will continue to index both the basic personal exemption — the amount you can earn without paying taxes — and the various tax brackets to inflation, but the combined savings for 2017 will work out to $71 for people earning the most.

Those savings will increase to $157 in 2018, $254 in 2019 and $353 in 2020.

The estimated cost to the treasury for the 2017-18 fiscal year is $23.3 million.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

The province will continue to index both the basic personal exemption and the various tax brackets to inflation, but the combined savings for 2017 will work out to $71 for people earning the most. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

No estimate of financial, employment impacts of public-sector wage controls

Nick Martin 4 minute read Preview

No estimate of financial, employment impacts of public-sector wage controls

Nick Martin 4 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

How much money wage controls are saving Manitobans from paying out this year remains a mystery.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen has not calculated nor would he venture an estimate Tuesday of the impact that his government’s public sector wage controls have had on his second provincial budget.

The wage control legislation “is not a measure that drops a number on the table,” he told reporters.

Asked three times, Friesen would not be pinned down on whether any public sector worker will be out of a job. Many areas within many departments outside of health and education are looking at lower budgets than last year, regardless if workers are frozen or have collective bargaining agreements still in effect.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen has not calculated nor would he venture an estimate Tuesday of the impact that his government’s public sector wage controls have had on his second provincial budget. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Cameron Friesen: Budget puts Manitoba ‘on road to recovery’

237 minute video Preview

Cameron Friesen: Budget puts Manitoba ‘on road to recovery’

237 minute video Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Manitoba's Finance Minister Cameron Friesen makes a statement to the press regarding the 2017-2018 budget

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

PC budget steers cautious course around huge deficit

Larry Kusch 5 minute read Preview

PC budget steers cautious course around huge deficit

Larry Kusch 5 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

After preaching austerity for the past year and raising fears about deep spending cuts, the Progressive Conservative government has tabled a cautious, steady-as-she-goes budget that makes only modest progress in slaying a massive deficit.

The provincial budget, released Tuesday, contains no major shocks or surprises. There are no new taxes or tax increases.

Premier Brian Pallister said it sets the province on the right course.

“Today is a real positive step in the right direction. It’s a step on the road to recovery for Manitoba,” he said.

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen, flanked by Janice McKinnon (left) and Dave Angus (right) who are co-chairs of the advisory panel on fiscal performance, during his presentation of the 2017-2018 budget to the media. (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

A look at some highlights of the Manitoba budget

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Preview

A look at some highlights of the Manitoba budget

The Canadian Press 1 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government released its 2017-18 budget on Tuesday. Here is a look a some of the highlights:

— No increases to personal or business taxes.

— Department spending increases are being held at or near the rate of inflation: 1.8 per cent for health; 1.1 per cent for education.

— Tuition fee income-tax rebate for post-secondary graduates who stay to work in Manitoba — worth up to $2,500 a year per person — to be phased out by 2018.

Read
Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

WINNIPEG - The Manitoba government released its 2017-18 budget on Tuesday. Here is a look a some of the highlights:

— No increases to personal or business taxes.

— Department spending increases are being held at or near the rate of inflation: 1.8 per cent for health; 1.1 per cent for education.

— Tuition fee income-tax rebate for post-secondary graduates who stay to work in Manitoba — worth up to $2,500 a year per person — to be phased out by 2018.

Eyes on budget as municipal leaders gather

Martin Cash 3 minute read Preview

Eyes on budget as municipal leaders gather

Martin Cash 3 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Mayors, reeves and municipal councillors from across the province are going to be in close proximity this week to be able to hold provincial politicians’ feet to the fire as the Pallister government presents its budget today.

That’s because starting today, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities will be holding meetings in Winnipeg that will bring roughly 600 municipal officials together. Mayors, reeves and chief administrative officers will be meeting today, ahead of the big municipal officials seminar on Wednesday and Thursday.

Chris Goertzen, chairman of the AMM and the mayor of Steinbach, said the Pallister government’s initiative to reduce red tape is something his membership is keenly interested in.

“We continue to look for partnerships,” Goertzen said. “That comes in a variety of ways. It can be financial or it can be working on red tape and reducing regulations that impede municipalities. It will be an interesting time to look at the budget and then meet with so many municipal officials from across the province in one place.”

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Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Association of Manitoba Municipalities chairman Chris Goertzen.

Ominous clouds on budget horizon

Uncredited 3 minute read Preview

Ominous clouds on budget horizon

Uncredited 3 minute read Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Pretty much every Manitoban has witnessed it: a blazing crimson sky at sunrise, stirring optimistic thoughts for the new day ahead, underpinned by a sense of unease at the dark clouds on the horizon that have given the first glimpse of dawn its awesome colour.

That’s the sort of apprehension at least a few in this province must have felt on Friday morning as the government of Brian Pallister unveiled the first half of a two-shoe drop of policy announcements that will, finally, define for Manitobans what the austerity-minded Progressive Conservatives have in mind for the next three years.

Red sky at morning ... nurses, doctors, hospital staff, caregivers and patients take warning.

Mr. Pallister’s first year in office has been largely a ho-hum affair, marked by a cautious legislative agenda, a few unrealized fiscal goals, the occasional bit of sleight-of-hand bookkeeping, a poorly-chosen “race war” comment on night hunting in the southwest, and a largely unnecessary kerfuffle over the premier’s Costa Rican vacation schedule.

Read
Tuesday, Apr. 11, 2017

Pretty much every Manitoban has witnessed it: a blazing crimson sky at sunrise, stirring optimistic thoughts for the new day ahead, underpinned by a sense of unease at the dark clouds on the horizon that have given the first glimpse of dawn its awesome colour.

That’s the sort of apprehension at least a few in this province must have felt on Friday morning as the government of Brian Pallister unveiled the first half of a two-shoe drop of policy announcements that will, finally, define for Manitobans what the austerity-minded Progressive Conservatives have in mind for the next three years.

Red sky at morning ... nurses, doctors, hospital staff, caregivers and patients take warning.

Mr. Pallister’s first year in office has been largely a ho-hum affair, marked by a cautious legislative agenda, a few unrealized fiscal goals, the occasional bit of sleight-of-hand bookkeeping, a poorly-chosen “race war” comment on night hunting in the southwest, and a largely unnecessary kerfuffle over the premier’s Costa Rican vacation schedule.

Manitoba budget to focus on restraint

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Manitoba budget to focus on restraint

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen left the door open to privatizing government services and reducing tax credits as he outlined in broad strokes his priorities for the provincial budget coming on Tuesday.

Friesen said the government is determined to chip away at an $846-million deficit left by the former NDP government and warned that big changes are needed.

"This government has made it really clear that we value an approach that is based on results," Friesen said Monday when asked whether some services might be privatized.

"We need to get the best value possible for Manitobans, and that means doing things differently, understanding that current approaches are broken. They are not working."

Read
Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen left the door open to privatizing government services and reducing tax credits as he outlined in broad strokes his priorities for the provincial budget coming on Tuesday.

Friesen said the government is determined to chip away at an $846-million deficit left by the former NDP government and warned that big changes are needed.

"This government has made it really clear that we value an approach that is based on results," Friesen said Monday when asked whether some services might be privatized.

"We need to get the best value possible for Manitobans, and that means doing things differently, understanding that current approaches are broken. They are not working."

Fiscal panel’s report reinforces Pallister’s austerity march

Larry Kusch 4 minute read Preview

Fiscal panel’s report reinforces Pallister’s austerity march

Larry Kusch 4 minute read Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen's second budget Tuesday will balance fiscal restraint with significant investments in infrastructure.

While government belt-tightening is expected to dominate discussion, a source said Friesen will pledge "a record annual investment in water-related infrastructure."

All told, projected spending on strategic infrastructure -- roads, bridges, sewers, flood-proofing, hospitals and schools -- will be "well above" $1 billion, the source said.

Also expected are a promise of greater utilization of public-private partnerships and the beginnings of an overhaul of the province's tax credit system.

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Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen

Major transfer to Manitoba in budget

Dan Vandal — Saint Boniface-Saint Vital MP Constituency Report 3 minute read Preview

Major transfer to Manitoba in budget

Dan Vandal — Saint Boniface-Saint Vital MP Constituency Report 3 minute read Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

On March 22, 2017, finance minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2017 federal budget.

There are a number of initiatives that will benefit Manitoba as a whole. For instance, Budget 2017 gives Manitoba a major transfer of $3.7 billion in 2017-18, up $147.7 million from the previous year, and the largest year-over-year increase since 2008-09. In addition, there are important investments in agriculture, clean technologies, Indigenous communities and the Lake Winnipeg Basin.

I wanted to highlight the initiatives that will most directly impact you, as a resident of Saint Boniface – Saint Vital.

Whether you are a young professional joining the workforce or a senior looking for independent living options, affordable housing was raised as a priority during my consultations in Saint Boniface – Saint Vital. In order to help ensure affordable housing that meets your needs, the federal government is investing more than $11.2 billion over 11 years for a National Housing Strategy, which includes $3.2 billion to province and territories to support key priorities for affordable housing.

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Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

Supplied photo
Saint Boniface-St. Vital MP Dan Vandal.

Budget survey strengthens sense of civic duty

Ligia Braidotti 3 minute read Preview

Budget survey strengthens sense of civic duty

Ligia Braidotti 3 minute read Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

 

Some Sisler High School students have learned how voicing their opinions can change federal government policy.Some Sisler High School students have learned how voicing their opinions can change federal government policy.

 

More than 7,000 students across Canada participated in a Student Budget Consultation program put on by CIVIX, a non-partisan organization born through a merger between Operation Dialogue and Student Vote that aims to build citizenship skills and habits throughout young Canadians.

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Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

DAVID LIPNOWSKI/Winnipeg Free Press Photo Archive
Sisler High School law and psychology teacher Carmelo Militano says young people are disengaged from politics and contemporary issues.

Ominous clouds on budget horizon

Editorial  3 minute read Preview

Ominous clouds on budget horizon

Editorial  3 minute read Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

Pretty much every Manitoban has witnessed it: a blazing crimson sky at sunrise, stirring optimistic thoughts for the new day ahead, underpinned by a sense of unease at the dark clouds on the horizon that have given the first glimpse of dawn its awesome colour.

That’s the sort of apprehension many in this province must have felt on Friday morning as the government of Brian Pallister unveiled the first half of a two-shoe drop of policy announcements that will, finally, define for Manitobans what the austerity-minded Progressive Conservatives have in mind for the next three years.

Red sky at morning... nurses, doctors, hospital staff, caregivers and patients take warning.

Mr. Pallister’s first year in office has been largely a ho-hum affair, marked by a cautious legislative agenda, a few unrealized fiscal goals, the occasional bit of sleight-of-hand bookkeeping and a largely unnecessary kerfuffle over the premier’s Costa Rican vacation schedule.

Read
Monday, Apr. 10, 2017

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files
Premier Brian Pallister

Pallister government’s popularity holding firm: poll

Nick Martin 3 minute read Preview

Pallister government’s popularity holding firm: poll

Nick Martin 3 minute read Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017

The Pallister government remains hugely popular with Manitobans almost a year after the provincial election — though it's slipping with some traditional NDP supporters.

A Probe research poll conducted for the Winnipeg Free Press in March shows Premier Brian Pallister's Tories have the support of 43 per cent of Manitobans polled — numbers well beyond what's needed for a majority government in a three-party race.

That's still six percentage points lower than a previous Probe poll conducted in December, and 10 percentage points below the party's massive victory last April 19 that produced 40 of 57 seats.

The NDP is growing back to its election level at 27 per cent, the Liberals at 20 per cent, and the Greens at eight per cent.

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Sunday, Apr. 9, 2017

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
A Probe research poll conducted for the Winnipeg Free Press in March shows Premier Brian Pallister's Tories have the support of 43 per cent of Manitobans polled — numbers well beyond what's needed for a majority government in a three-party race.

Brandon braces for budget

Tyler Clarke 6 minute read Preview

Brandon braces for budget

Tyler Clarke 6 minute read Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017

Pairing local requests against the provincial government’s tight budget rhetoric, budget day is likely to disappoint some.

The Manitoba Tories’ latest budget drops on Tuesday, at which time it’s anticipated they either hold the line or cut back on spending.

As such, some projects will likely become longer-term goals, while others will require some financial manoeuvring to see fruition.

Considering the province’s recent austerity comments, Assiniboine Community College president and CEO Mark Frison said that he anticipates “restraint, all-around.”

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Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017

Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun
A woman walks past one of the buildings at Assiniboine Community College’s North Hill Campus in Brandon on Wednesday.

Awaiting the big budget reveal

None 4 minute read Preview

Awaiting the big budget reveal

None 4 minute read Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017

Several folks in Manitoba’s public sector getting a collective case of the jitters as the date April 11 creeps ever closer. This, of course, is the date that Manitoba’s Pallister government unveils its 2017-18 budget plan in the legislature.

Without question, public sector workers and non-profit groups are wary of this coming budget, as rumours of provincial budget cutbacks continue to circulate in the media and from the lips of union leaders and opposition MLAs.

And this is not without reason. The province has cancelled many infrastructure projects outright, in the Tory drive to balance the books. More than $1 billion in health-care infrastructure projects were axed in February, including a $300-million new centre for CancerCare Manitoba.

The Progressive Conservatives also abruptly pulled the plug on two projects that required provincial capital funding — one a new gymnasium at Kelvin High School, and the other a sports field at Dakota Collegiate.

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Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017

Several folks in Manitoba’s public sector getting a collective case of the jitters as the date April 11 creeps ever closer. This, of course, is the date that Manitoba’s Pallister government unveils its 2017-18 budget plan in the legislature.

Without question, public sector workers and non-profit groups are wary of this coming budget, as rumours of provincial budget cutbacks continue to circulate in the media and from the lips of union leaders and opposition MLAs.

And this is not without reason. The province has cancelled many infrastructure projects outright, in the Tory drive to balance the books. More than $1 billion in health-care infrastructure projects were axed in February, including a $300-million new centre for CancerCare Manitoba.

The Progressive Conservatives also abruptly pulled the plug on two projects that required provincial capital funding — one a new gymnasium at Kelvin High School, and the other a sports field at Dakota Collegiate.

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