The devil is in the details when it comes to government budgeting.' - MGEU president Peter Olfert.
Winnipeg (26 March 2009) - The NDP government of Premier Gary Doer of Manitoba has tabled a balanced budget that includes a 4.4% increase in core spending, thanks to a provincial economy that has remained relatively stable in the midst of a recession that is forcing Ottawa and most other provinces to run steep deficits.
Finance Minister Greg Selinger says debt payments for the year will be reduced to just $20 million (compared to $110 million last year) to keep the province in the black. A small surplus of $54 million is forecast.
"It's a budget that's intended to be both prudent - which is why we are not running a deficit - and stimulative, which is why we are increasing our capital spending," Selinger told the legislature. "Revenues are flattening out. We have to make sure that we're careful as we go forward to have revenues to support key programs."
'Devil in the details'
Peter Olfert, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), endorsed several measures in the budget but said more work needs to be done to determine what effect it will have on employees and agencies that rely on the government for funding.
“The devil is in the details when it comes to government budgeting,” Olfert said. “We’re going to work with our members now to determine what some of these measures will mean now and in the future in government departments and in the community.”
While Manitoba is not immune to the effects of the global economic downturn, the province is expected to weather the current crisis better than most other jurisdictions in Canada.
"The budget reflects that," Olfert said, adding:
"The MGEU has learned there could be some job losses as a result of (the budget) announcements, and the general purpose debt and pension contributions have been scaled down this year. The union will continue to examine the numbers in this year’s budget and take appropriate steps with its members in the days to come."
Among the highlights of the budget:
- Provide a 1.8% increase in summary expenditures.
- Manage within government so that one-third of departments will hold the line or see slight decreases as government does its part to modernize and adapt its operations while maintaining civil servant staff vacancies and overhead costs.
- Provide for a $20 million debt payment this year.
- Invest in post-secondary capital improvements at the University College of the North, Red River College, Brandon University, Assiniboine Community College, University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba.
- Proceed with health capital construction projects including the Westman Regional Laboratory in Brandon; hemodialysis services in Russell, Gimli and Winnipeg; the cardiac science facility at St. Boniface Hospital; redeveloping the emergency department at Victoria General Hospital, and constructing a new Aboriginal personal-care home in Winnipeg.
- Make it easier for caregivers of people with disabilities to access the primary caregiver tax credit.
- Expand training for nurses at the University of Manitoba, Brandon University and the University College of the North.
- Introduce additional training seats for apprenticeship training.
- Provide funding to hire more emergency room staff and add new ambulances to the provincial fleet.
- Eliminate entrance fees at provincial parks for the next two years to support recreation opportunities closer to home.
- Provide funding for a range of housing options for individuals with mental health issues.
- Fund additional child care spaces.
- Increase wages for child care centre staff by 3% effective July 1. Provide $4 million in new funding for emergency services delivered by the city of Winnipeg.
- Increase funding to the Main Street project.
- Provide Manitoba municipalities and communities with $84 million, an increase of $4 million over last year, for roads, transit, public safety and other municipal infrastructure and service priorities.
- Begin construction of the women’s correctional facility.
- Develop a new provincial campground.
- Upgrade existing parks and campground infrastructure.
- Invest in the growth and development of conservation districts.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Manitoba Budget - full details