September 16, 2019

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Grits vow to boost economy; accuse PCs of heading toward recession

Dougald Lamont, leader of the Liberal party, speaks to reporters Sunday about his party's fully costed platform. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Dougald Lamont, leader of the Liberal party, speaks to reporters Sunday about his party's fully costed platform. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Liberals are promising to prime Manitoba's economic pump by upping investments in infrastructure while accusing Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives of pushing the province towards a recession with their austerity agenda.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Sunday his party would boost new spending by $1.4 billion in its first year in office to repair services and boost job growth.

He said while the payback on some of the planned investments would take time to materialize, "returns will surpass expenditures in three to four years."

The Liberals project spending an additional $1.084 billion over current levels on infrastructure, jobs and a promised guaranteed income plan in 2020-21.

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The Liberals are promising to prime Manitoba's economic pump by upping investments in infrastructure while accusing Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives of pushing the province towards a recession with their austerity agenda.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said Sunday his party would boost new spending by $1.4 billion in its first year in office to repair services and boost job growth.

He said while the payback on some of the planned investments would take time to materialize, "returns will surpass expenditures in three to four years."

The Liberals project spending an additional $1.084 billion over current levels on infrastructure, jobs and a promised guaranteed income plan in 2020-21.

In their newly released costed campaign platform, the Liberals project the province's gross domestic product to grow by 1.58 per cent in 2020-21, under their stewardship, and to increase steadily after that until it reaches 1.95 per cent in 2023-2024. The Conference Board of Canada recently projected Manitoba's economic growth at 0.8 per cent for 2020-21, although the major banks peg it at 1.5 per cent or more.

Asked what changes he would make to the party's plans if Canada were to suffer a recession, Lamont said there would be even more need for stimulus spending if that were to occur.

"I don't just oppose austerity and cuts because of ideology. I oppose them because all of the evidence is that austerity does not work," Lamont told a news conference at the legislature.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont speaks to media outside the legislature Sunday. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)</p>

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont speaks to media outside the legislature Sunday. (John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Liberals propose increasing infrastructure spending by $600 million over current levels. They estimate the spending will have a 129 per cent return on investment.

Lamont said strategic investments in the province will eventually lower the government's costs.

"People often talk about how government needs to work like a household. But imagine that Manitoba is a drafty house that needs maintenance, where heating bills are high because there's no insulation," Lamont said. "We can save money in two ways: Mr. Pallister's solution is to save money by turning off the heat and saving it by having everyone freeze. You'll save money but you'll never get better. The Liberal solution is to invest and insulate the house, save money on heat forever and be warmer at the same time."

Lamont also took shots at the NDP, saying it would take 30 years under that party's daycare plan to eliminate waiting lists, while under the Liberals it would take four years. He said that under the NDP plan to address climate change, it would take 30 years for Manitoba to become carbon neutral whereas under the Liberals it would take 10 years.

The Liberals said their campaign promises would boost health spending next year by $85 million, while their education promises would cost an extra $56.5 million in their first year in office.

Kirkfield Park Progressive Conservative candidate Scott Fielding said it's clear that Lamont and his party want to take Manitoba back down the same path towards higher taxes and higher debt that was travelled by the former NDP government.

"Our strong and experienced PC team has a real plan. We are the only party committed to making life more affordable for you by lowering taxes, including removing education property taxes and reversing NDP tax grabs," Fielding said in a statement.

The NDP said in a statement that it's unfortunate that the Liberals chose to wait two days before election day — and after the advance voting period was complete — to release its costed platform.

"We know the number one priority in this election is health care and we are the only party that has offered a clear alternative to Brian Pallister's health care cuts," the party said in a statement.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

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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