Manitoba delivers the last budget before the provincial election
The Manitoba Progressive Conservative government, led by Premier Heather Stefanson, has unveiled its final budget in advance of a general election slated for this October. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Cliff Cullen delivered the budget address, with the key themes being health, public safety, affordability and the economy.
Raising the Provincial Basic Personal Amount to $15,000.
Raising income tax brackets in 2024 and cutting the payroll tax (the top personal tax bracket would be $100,000.)
Increasing the School Tax Rebate to 50 per cent on farm and residential properties, saving the average homeowner $774 this year
$190-million to reduce payments charged to Manitoba Hydro, saving Manitoba Hydro and ratepayers more than $4-billion over the next 20 years
Increases to the minimum wage in April and October, bringing it to $15 per hour
A projected deficit of $363-million, down $15 million from the current 2022-23 forecast of $378 million.
$7.9 billion in health spending overall; an increase of $668 million intended to “to help shorten wait times and rebuild the front lines.” (This includes $130-million to reduce the diagnostic and surgical backlog ; continuing to invest $200-million into the Health Human Resource Action Plan; a $120-million infusion to the Pharmacare program, including extending coverage for insulin pumps for eligible adults with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
Budget 2023 also initiates a $1.2-billion multi-year capital campaign that will add capacity to nine facilities including in rural hospitals, St. Boniface Hospital, Grace Hospital, CancerCare Manitoba and Health Sciences Centre.
$100 million to address the challenges of violent crime and homelessness. This includes $51.8-million for Manitoba’s Violent Crime Strategy over two years, with $34.6-million allocated this year
Funding for kindergarten to Grade 12 schools to $1.7 billion, up $100 million from last year.
23,000 affordable child-care spaces, with 76 million in planned spending this year to introduce affordable child care.
Disabilities funding increasing to $640 million.
$217 million in total municipal operating funding – $47 million more than last year.
Increasing investments in loans and guarantees by $27 million to incent private-sector investment in enterprises that can demonstrate significant, sustainable growth and job creation. It also includes $15 million for the Community Economic Development Fund and $20 million to support economic development and investment attraction.
Doubling the funds dedicated to venture capital to $100 million and eliminates payroll taxes for an additional 150 employers. The payroll tax rate will be reduced for the first time in 25 years in 2024, if the economy continues to perform as it has this year.
$40 million to develop infrastructure to allow CentrePort South to expand and will invest $147.6 million over two years to improve the Hudson Bay rail line to the Port of Churchill.
The Progressive Conservative government was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2019 under former premier Brian Pallister. Stefanson won the PC leadership in the fall of 2021, and was subsequently sworn in as premier.
The opposition New Democratic Party, led by Wab Kinew, is looking to return to the corridors of power this fall, and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont is also seeking gains.
A Probe Research poll from December 2022 showed the NDP with 46% percent support province-wide, with 36% accruing to the PCs, and the Liberals sitting at 13%. (Source: https://probe-research.com/polls/ndp-lead-inches-slightly-higher-december-2022-omnibus)
The NDP government for 17 years, between 1999 and 2016, led by premiers Gary Doer, and later Greg Selinger.
An in-depth background on Budget 2023 can be found at the following link: CLICK HERE
Wes McLean is a Senior Consultant with the Capital Hill Group, who spent 18 years advising conservative governments in Ottawa, New Brunswick and Manitoba. He most recently served as deputy chief of staff to Premier Blaine Higgs.