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Manitoba Strays from Balanced-Budget Approach

By Sarah Klein

Manitoba Legislative Building (CHRISD.CA FILE)

Manitoba’s books won’t be balanced by 2014, Premier Greg Selinger said on Monday.

The province delivered its speech from the throne this afternoon, signalling the start of the second session of the 40th Manitoba legislative assembly.

Read by Chief Justice Richard Scott, on behalf of Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee, the speech focused on a number of protection measures for consumers, as well as the government’s plan to reduce its size and spending.

“With a balanced approach, we’ve kept Manitoba moving forward through the global financial crisis but it’s clear that uncertainty has become an ongoing reality for economies everywhere,” Selinger said. “Manitoba’s fundamentals are strong and our plan will keep our economy growing, improve health care, create opportunities and ensure Manitoba remains a great place to live.”

“Our plan is moderate and balanced: streamlining and reducing costs, and protecting jobs and the services families count on.”

Highlights include new measures to protect families dealing with new home construction, vehicle purchases and cable bills; and new tools to help low-income Manitobans purchase a home.

The government also pledged to add 75,000 workers to Manitoba’s labour force by 2020, add 200 new personal care home beds in Winnipeg, and faster, more convenient access to testing and treatment for cancer patients with new CancerCare hubs in rural Manitoba.

Other highlights:

  • Better education and training opportunities with new primary schools and new support for high school students to transition into apprenticeships.
  • New rural economic development and improvements to cities with new road infrastructure, building on already historic road investments.
  • Better supports for businesses with a new business succession resource centre and a single point of contact for Manitoba’s entrepreneurs.
  • Improved access to family doctors with additional nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and dieticians for medical practices taking new patients.
  • Better education and training opportunities with new primary schools and new support for high school students to transition into apprenticeships.
  • Improvements to parks and park amenities, and the creation of new parks.

“The Selinger government spent a great deal of time congratulating itself because it is too tired to listen to and address current issues important to Manitobans,” Tory opposition leader Brian Pallister said in response to the speech.

“This tax whack was not an election promise and certainly wasn’t mentioned in last year’s throne speech. As a result, the PC Party has trouble taking seriously commitments coming from an NDP throne speech.”

Mayor Sam Katz said prior to the speech he was hoping the provincial government would invest more in municipal infrastucture, while the Liberals were hoping to see poverty issues addressed.



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