Doer Government Set to Release Budget
Apr 03, 2007
The Doer government is poised to release a Provincial Budget tomorrow. This being an election year, it will be interesting to see what the government priorities are – and where they’re headed as the campaign silly season begins.
The duo of Doer and Selinger have become quite adept at spreading the budget goodies out over the largest possible swath. Since 1999 we have seen:
- targeted tax cuts, particularly as they pertain to small business rates;
- the first reductions in corporate business taxes since World War II;
- a phase-out of the Education Support Levy;
- slightly increased program spending (Manitoba is the second lowest spender per capita in Canada);
- record investments in health care;
- investments in schools that are tied to growth in the economy;
- a real transportation plan aimed at improving roads and highways and enhancing our position on the Mid Continent Trade Corridor;
- capital investments including the MTS Centre, Health Sciences Centre, Brandon Regional Health Centre, and the Swan River Hospital;
- new resources to fight crime as well as the causes of crime; and
- initiatives to tackle water quality issues.
This has been accomplished within the parameters of Balanced Budget Legislation (introduced in the 1990s by the Manitoba Progressive Conservatives), and thanks in part to increased federal transfer payments. There’s no mistaking that our economy has improved. Of note: in the 1990s property taxes rose and property values froze. Since 1999, property taxes have fallen and property values have skyrocketed. Our credit rating (according to Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s) has also improved. And the government has been paying down debt and pension liabilities.
That’s all good, positive stuff. However, government workers, and those who rely on government funding for their operations, know there remain a number of priority areas within the public sector that need to addressed.
1) We must see improved staffing, training and salaries for rural EMS workers.
2) Investments in equipment and capital for highways workers are imperative.
3) Funding increases for diagnostic services staff are well overdue.
4) Strengthened environmental initiatives to protect our water and help clean up Lake Winnipeg are essential if we are to protect and enhance this vital natural resource for our children.
5) Increased investments in child care and early learning must be addressed by the province now that federal funding has been cut.
6) Enhanced ESL and training opportunities for new immigrants to Manitoba must be part of any long-term plan as we look to the future.
These are but a few issues that have been brought to MGEU by workers in the field. MGEU President Peter Olfert will once again be on-hand at the Budget unveiling to ensure these and other issues are presented to media. We know we need to remain vigilant – and vocal – to ensure Manitoba maintains its position as one of the best places to work, live, and raise our families.
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