BUDGET 2017 CHARTS MODERATE, RESPONSIBLE COURSE; SETS OUT STRONG PLAN FOR PROVINCE
Budget 2017 charts a moderate and responsible course for Manitoba, based on reducing taxes and restraining government spending while investing appropriately in front-line services, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said today.
“Manitobans set priorities, make plans and come to decisions about their personal budgets every day, based on what they can afford. They expect no less from their own government,” said Friesen. “Budget 2017 was built for and by Manitobans, and sets out a strong plan for our province as we work to correct our course and steadily pursue improvements year over year.”
Budget 2017 includes a 2.1 per cent increase to core government spending in 2017-18. Measures focus on addressing inherited challenges, protecting and improving front-line services, and rebuilding the economy, all of which were identified as the priorities of Manitoba families, front-line workers, small businesses and employers during an unprecedented pre-budget consultation process.
Budget 2017 provides:
- record levels of investment to Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living including $107.5 million in new spending with targeted investments in primary health-care services including an increase of $1.7 million for universal newborn hearing screening, an additional $8.8 million for expanded dialysis treatment and $1.6 million more to support mental health services. The budget also includes a further $9.4 million for new cancer drugs and $6.5 million to further reduce ambulance fees for Manitobans.
- significant investments in Manitoba Families, increasing the department’s budget by more than $105 million, a 5.4 per cent increase over last year. The budget provides support for 501 new licensed child-care spaces and 50 new home-based child-care spaces this fiscal year and increases operating grants for home-based child-care providers. It includes $12.8 million for projects that will improve the supply and quality of affordable housing and $85 million to further support Employment Income and Rental Assistance programming clients including an increase of nearly $12 million to continue to index RentAssist benefits to 75 per cent of the median market rate. Budget 2017 also protects the Primary Caregiver Tax Credit and includes investments to combat family violence and violence against women.
- a significant funding boost to Manitoba Education and Training, with an overall increase of $36 million including measures that will focus on reducing barriers to post-secondary education for low-income students with increases to direct bursary support and the transformation of the Manitoba Bursary Program into a grant available to students earlier, during the course of their studies. The increase also reflects an investment of $1.3 billion for the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system including a guarantee that no school division will receive less than 98 per cent of its prior year’s funding.
- a new Labour Market Strategy aligned with industry and community needs will ensure the province has a highly skilled and adaptable workforce able to meet the economic and labour market opportunities of the future.
- Partnerships for Economic Growth, a new single-window approach to supporting innovation and economic development through an investment of $4 million allocated based on demonstrated results.
- an increase of $12 million to Manitoba Justice including commitments to innovative approaches to the backlogs that plague the province’s justice system, including the integration of restorative justice into community corrections, and continued advocacy for a pilot project to be undertaken in Manitoba that would reconsider the utility of preliminary inquiries.
“Some of our provincial neighbours are pursuing different paths involving stark decisions, choosing either higher taxes or pursuing increased spending,” said Friesen. “Manitoba’s budget avoids such drastic measures, choosing instead to responsibly move Manitoba along the road to recovery while maintaining our government’s commitment to making Manitoba the most improved province in all of Canada.”
Budget 2017 also sets out provisions for ensuring an affordable and competitive environment that increases productivity and encourages economic growth and job creation. This includes:
- an overall strategic infrastructure investment forecast to reach more than $1.7 billion in 2017-18, one of the highest total infrastructure expenditures in Manitoba history. This includes $747 million for roads, highways, bridges and flood protection, $641 million for health, education and housing infrastructure, and up to $370 million for municipal, local and other provincial infrastructure.
- creating enhanced tourism marketing by reinvesting revenue generated by the tourism sector with the continued implementation of the 96-4 Tourism Investment Model;
- removing regulatory burdens for businesses, non-profits, local government and residents, as well as those that prevent full engagement in public private partnerships, that would allow better value for money in provincial infrastructure investments;
- reducing red tape for municipalities and third-party proponents and moving toward making Manitoba the first province to deliver a truly functional, single-window model while ensuring an expanded ‘fair say’ for municipalities through greater flexibility and autonomy;
- focusing on true community partnerships to market northern Manitoba as a place to visit, to invest in and to live, which will engage Indigenous communities in economic development;
- prioritizing the growth and development of Urban Aboriginal Economic Development Zones, which create economic and employment opportunities for Manitoba’s Indigenous communities;
- increasing investment in agriculture including funding for an enhanced Livestock Growth Strategy and Grain Innovation Hub to support research and increased development activities for the livestock sector;
- committing to develop and modernize Manitoba’s parks system and partnering with Snoman Inc., Manitoba’s snowmobile association, to further integrate the province’s snowmobile trail network and make trail passes more accessible for Manitobans; and
- investing more than $63 million in strategic investments within Manitoba’s sport, culture and heritage sectors, to be directed based on a return-on-investment analysis and the elimination of the current film classification board in favour of a system that adopts film ratings already established by British Columbia.
In addition, Budget 2017 includes a number of tax measures to help build a stronger economy. Measures include:
- tax relief, no tax increases and no new taxes, while continuing investment in the services Manitobans depend upon;
- indexing personal income tax brackets and the basic personal exemption to remove more than 2,000 taxpayers from the tax rolls entirely and save Manitoba taxpayers $23 million this fiscal year and $34 million by 2020;
- maintaining the Children’s Arts and Cultural Activity Tax Credit, the Fitness Tax Credit, the Adoption Tax Credit, the Fertility Treatment Tax Credit, the Seniors’ School Tax Rebate, the Education Property Tax Credit, the Farmland School Tax Rebate and the Manitoba Tuition Fee and Education Amounts; and
- renewing the Book Publishing Tax Credit, the Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit at nine per cent, the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit and the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit.
“Manitobans deserve a better plan, one that focuses increased spending in the areas that matter most to Manitoba families – for health care and education, for children and for the protection of our communities,” said Friesen. “Budget 2017 is open, transparent and accountable to all Manitobans. It provides significant and thoughtful support for infrastructure and services, better value for money and increased flexibility and choice for our partners. Making necessary adjustments now will allow us to ensure that Manitoba remains a wonderful place to live and invest.”
For more information on Budget 2017, visit www.gov.mb.ca/budget2017.
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