WINNIPEG — It was sold as a status quo-like budget with few surprises, and that’s what Finance Minister Jennifer Howard delivered on Thursday.
The Manitoba government presented its 2014-15 provincial budget, which didn’t include any new tax increases this time around.
“This budget is focused on what matters most to Manitoba families, investing in their priorities like infrastructure, education and training. These investments will create good jobs and grow our economy,” Howard said.
Among the highlights is the promise of $5.5 million towards creating more daycare spaces, an undetermined minimum wage increase, and low-interest loan program through MPI to make purchasing winter tires more manageable for vehicle owners.
The budget still runs a $357 million deficit, but Howard said cutting front-line services wouldn’t be the answer in reducing the province’s mounting debt.
“We will continue to reject calls for reckless, across-the-board cuts that would return us to a time when our roads, hospitals and schools were falling apart, front-line nurses and teachers were put out of work, and our young people were leaving for opportunities elsewhere. We’ve chosen a different path, one that creates jobs and keeps our economy growing steadily through uncertain times while keeping life affordable and protecting the services Manitoba families count on.”
- An improved tax credit of up to $5,000 to encourage employers to take on more apprentices and a new bonus for employers who take on apprentices for the first time
- New investments in smaller classes, to ensure students have more one-on-one attention in their critical early years
- Continued infrastructure projects under a $5.5 billion plan previously announced
- More doctors and nurse practitioners, opening more QuickCare Clinics and establishing primary care networks to improve access to family doctors
- New legislation to protect consumers when they contract home repairs and buy or sell a home, and new rules to protect families from misleading cable, Internet and cellphone promotions
- A new seniors school property tax rebate of up to $235 on top of the $1,100 existing tax credit, entirely eliminating school property taxes for 7,200 more seniors
- A freeze or reduction to the budgets of nine government departments