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Manitoba Plans Return to In-Depth Budget Details Under New Bill

March 8, 2022 4:56 PM | The Canadian Press

By The Canadian Press

Cameron Friesen

Cameron Friesen, minister of finance and minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro is sworn in at the Legislative Building in Winnipeg on Jan. 18, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski)

The Manitoba government is planning to reinstate the release of detailed budget information after being accused of hiding it last year.

A bill now before the legislature would require the government to divulge details of each department’s spending every year, including staffing levels, with comparable numbers for the previous year.

The bill would also require each department to release its objectives for the fiscal year and how they will be achieved.

Those details are contained in documents called supplementary estimates, and the Opposition New Democrats complained last year when those documents were much smaller than usual.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen was also asked by reporters whether he is considering following Alberta’s lead by suspending collection of the provincial fuel tax to give motorists a break.

Friesen didn’t rule it out completely, but said any talk of fuel tax breaks should be aimed primarily at Ottawa.

“We’re not saying no, but we’re saying this is a conversation that finance ministers of the provinces and territories cannot lead without the involvement of the federal government,” Friesen said Tuesday.

While the province has its own fuel tax at a fixed price per litre, the federal government has a few levies on fuel — a price on carbon, an excise tax, and a sales tax. The last one is a percentage of the total price so it generates more money as prices rise.

“The federal government must be in the conversation to think about which of those mechanisms they would like to adjust in order to help Canadians save money,” Friesen said.

CP - The Canadian Press