WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government said it has reduced non-essential workforce expenditures in an effort to free up money for health care in the fight against COVID-19.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding made the announcement at the Manitoba Legislative Building Monday afternoon, adding the province is currently projecting a deficit of up to $5 billion for 2020-21, partially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fielding noted the province has identified a 2.2 per cent reduction in non-essential workforce expenditures.

The province has been asking Crown corporations and other public sector workers to find ways to reduce the size of their workforce by as high as 30 per cent.

“Our aim has always been to minimize temporary public-sector layoffs, despite the tremendous fiscal challenges we’re facing,” said Fielding in a statement. “And through our success in finding other necessary operating savings in non-essential discretionary spending areas, we will have kept our actual workforce expense reductions to just over two per cent, many of which have already been implemented.”

Fielding added the province has reduced non-essential spending by 4.9 per cent, to free up money for the fight against COVID-19.


Fielding said the deficit increase is due to a drop in provincial revenues of approximately $3 billion, along with approximately $2 billion due to “additional COVID-19 related costs.”

Fielding told reporters the province is anticipating a major GDP drop anywhere between five to eight per cent.

Fielding added Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries usually brings in approximately $650 million in revenue, but with casinos closed, they are anticipating a drop.

He did not have an estimate on what that drop would be precisely, because they don't know how long the casinos will be closed for.


NDP Leader Wab Kinew criticized the province’s decision.

“Not only are they cutting jobs in a crisis, the Pallister Conservatives are misrepresenting the facts to justify their plan to cut $860 million from schools, universities, municipalities and every government department,” Kinew said in a statement. “$860 million is the biggest single-day budget cut in Manitoba's history.”

Kinew said the decision will not support families during a crisis, but instead flattens an economic recovery.

“The Premier should be protecting jobs, investing in our economy and giving families the direct financial assistance they need to survive this pandemic rather than force through ideological cuts,” Kinew said.

MLAs will return to the Manitoba legislature on Wednesday.