The Manitoba NDP released its provincial election platform on Thursday morning, specifically promising "significant" infrastructure investment in Brandon.
The promise is one of 57 policy points laid out in the document, which focuses on improving health care, jobs and sustainable growth and providing an affordable quality of life.
Lonnie Patterson, the party’s candidate in Brandon East and regional director, couldn’t provide any specifics of the proposed local infrastructure investments on Thursday, but said the NDP will be announcing more in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 10 election.
"I know that (NDP Leader Wab Kinew) will be out in Brandon to talk about that a bit more during the campaign, so I can’t give you any more specifics at the moment, but I am very happy to see Brandon included specifically in there and that we will be receiving infrastructure investments."
While Patterson couldn’t elaborate on what "significant" means in the platform or attach a dollar figure to it, she said a major announcement in Brandon is coming down the pike.
Kinew was previously in Brandon in early July criticizing Premier Brian Pallister’s government for cuts to infrastructure spending. He blamed provincial government cuts for delaying construction of the Daly Overpass. When asked at the time whether he would commit funding to speed the project along, Kinew didn’t provide specifics.
Brandon West NDP candidate Nick Brown declined to comment on the platform, deferring to Patterson instead.
The NDP’s platform also outlines a promise to strike an emergency task force to help find new international markets for canola, pork and other products, which have been caught in Canada’s trade dispute with China. Patterson said this will have a direct impact locally as Brandon is a hub for producers in the western region of the province.
"It is incredibly important to make sure they have markets to sell into. We definitely know with canola there have been some struggles recently and so making the commitment to help find new markets will give producers more opportunities to sell their products."
The platform promise to restore the cap on K-3 class sizes will also have an impact in Brandon, Patterson said. As an educational assistant in the Brandon School Division, she said she has seen the need for a lower ratio of students to teachers in the province’s education system.
Len Isleifson, the incumbent Progressive Conservative candidate in Brandon East, said the platform reaffirms that the NDP would raise taxes on Manitobans if elected and questioned the party’s ability to follow through on promises.
"(The NDP) can make all the promises they want," he said. "They’ve made promises in the past, but we know how they’ve kept those. A lot of it is a lot of hype, a lot of talk.
"They want to create a society that goes back to what we’ve just spent three and a half years trying to fix, so I really don’t see much in their platform at all."
On infrastructure, he touted the current Progressive Conservative provincial government’s action on building the Maryland Park School, which is a major investment in the city.
The NDP’s platform comes before the election writ is officially dropped, marking the official start of the campaign.
The document provides approximate costs for the three pillars of the platform. In total, it estimates $69.4 million in new spending in the 2020-21 fiscal year, rising to $129.7 million in 2023-24.
To pay for the spending, the platform proposes a tax hike on the top one per cent of earners, those who make more than $250,000 per year. It also calls to reduce discretionary spending by two per cent, hire fewer consultants, reduce health bureaucracy, reintegrate Efficiency Manitoba into Hydro Manitoba and reduce government advertising. The platform outlines a small government surplus of $500,000 by 2023.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 9, 2019