COLUMN: Report from the Legislature – Budget 2023 is delivering historic help for Manitobans
We all know that inflation and higher interest rates over the last year have been hard on Manitobans. Budget 2023 is a plan to provide historic help for Manitobans when they need it most. This budget balances historic tax changes with investments in the services Manitobans rely on. It focuses on safer streets, healing health care, stronger communities and creating opportunities for the future. This budget increases the Basic Personal Exemption amount from $10,885 annually to $15,000 – lowering income taxes for all Manitobans. We are increasing the school tax rebate to 50 percent on farm and residential properties, saving the average homeowner $774 this year. We sent out a Family Affordability Package last fall, and the Carbon Tax Relief Fund cheques are being delivered right now to help Manitobans make ends meet. We’re also becoming more competitive, with increases to the minimum wage in April and October to $15 per hour.
Healing Health Care is an important part of Budget 2023, and it includes a historic investment of $7.9 billion dollars for health care, $668 million more than the previous budget. This is the largest-ever health care budget in Manitoba history. This includes $130- million to reduce the diagnostic and surgical backlog, and continuing to invest $200-million into the Health Human Resource Action Plan. There are $1.2 billion in multi-year capital investments in rural hospitals and other health infrastructure, in addition to renovations in Winnipeg to the St. Boniface Hospital, the Grace Hospital, Cancer Care Manitoba and the Health Sciences Centre. As part of our PC Team’s new seniors strategy, we are creating a new hearing aid program for seniors, as part of the additional $15.9 million to advance initiatives under the strategy. We are also investing $55 million to implement the recommendations from the Stevenson report on long-term care, continuing with ongoing funding for RAAM clinics, including a new clinic in Winnipeg, which will be Indigenous-led through a partnership with the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre.
Since being elected in 2011, I have heard from constituents about funding for insulin pumps. Our PC government took the historic step to cover them for Manitobans up to the age of 25 – and now we’re taking it further. Budget 2023 contains a $120 million infusion to the Pharmacare program, extending coverage for insulin pumps for all eligible adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Budget 2023 makes a historic investment in infrastructure and other initiatives that will transform Manitoba into a global trade and transportation corridor. This budget invests more than $2.5 billion in trade-enabling highway infrastructure over the next five years, a total of up to $160.4-million on an ongoing basis for cost-shared investments in municipal capital projects, including water and wastewater projects, $147.6-million over two years in the Hudson Bay rail line to the Port of Churchill, an additional $50 million contribution to the Venture Capital Fund to grow businesses in Manitoba, increased investments in mining activities, and more.
Budget 2023 provides historic help to all Manitobans, and I’m proud to support it.