Province unveils spending plans in throne speech; balanced-budget target might not be met by 2014
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 10:49AM CST
Last Updated Monday, November 19, 2012 7:34PM CST
The Selinger government might meet its target to balance the books by 2014.
The province unveiled its annual throne speech Monday morning, which includes new spending in health care as well as measures to reduce the size of government.
"Our priorities are the priorities we've heard from Manitoba families," said Selinger. "Our plan is moderate and balanced: streamlining and reducing costs, and protecting jobs and the services families count on," said Premier Greg Selinger.
For the first time, the premier and finance minister would no longer commit to their target date of 2014 to slay the billion-dollar deficit.
"We want to come back into balance, that's for sure, but I think everyone understands that we're not going to do that at the expense of services like health care and education," said Finance Minister Stan Struthers.
The speech included 200 new personal care home beds for Winnipeg and new cancer care hubs in rural Manitoba as well as new schools in Waverley West and Sage Creek.
"When the number of children reach a certain threshold, that triggers a capital investment and those communities are there," said Selinger.
The province also promised to add 75,000 workers to the labour force by 2020, while introducing legislation to better protect home owners and car owners and cable subscribers.
On the downsizing side of things, the province said municipalities under 1,000 people will be required to amalgamate and 600 civil service jobs will be cut through retirement and attrition.
"We're not going to do what some have said in terms of deep cuts," said Struthers.
The province said the cuts won't be enough to dismantle the deficit.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation said it worries the province will have to raise taxes in next year's budget to compensate.
"If you're really bad at management, you're going to have to raise taxes. You're going to rack up tonnes of debt. This is what happens," said Colin Craig from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Selinger said the federal government isn't picking up as much of the 2011 flood costs as first expected.
The provincial opposition, meanwhile, said the debt is more than just flood costs.
"Three quarters of it was due to the NDP spend too much money - they have to look within themselves and stop blaming Mother Nature for their problems," said Brian Pallister, leader of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative party.
Selinger also pointed to economic problems in the U.S. and the fact that Ottawa's deficit projections have ballooned as well.
You can read the full throne speech below.