Budget 2012 is a plan to keep Manitoba moving forward through uncertain times, by focusing on the things that matter most to families and by finding responsible ways to reduce spending, Finance Minister Stan Struthers announced today.
“Through record flooding last year and a global recession, we’ve worked to protect jobs and services families count on and our plan is working,” said Struthers. “But in uncertain times, families look for creative ways to reduce their expenses and we have too. In this budget, we’ve frozen or reduced spending in 10 departments to make sure more money is going directly into our schools, hospitals and roads.”
The minister noted that core government spending is decreasing by 3.9 per cent this year. The provincial government will reduce in these and other ways:
reducing the number of regional health authorities to five from 11;
cutting the number of Crown corporations by merging the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and Manitoba Lotteries Corporation;
reducing the number of government-appointed agencies, boards and commissions by 20 per cent; and
continuing a 20 per cent roll-back on salaries for ministers and freezing wage increases for MLAs.
The minister also noted that more than half of the government’s departments will see a freeze or reduction in their budgets.
“There are challenges ahead of us. Many flood-damaged roads and bridges are in need of repair. There remains uncertainty in economies everywhere. And for the third straight year, the federal government has kept major transfers flat, despite the growing demand for important services like health care,” said Struthers. “That’s why in this budget we are cutting spending, finding efficiencies and raising new revenue fairly to protect and improve the things that matter most to families.”
The minister noted that Budget 2012 will build on the priorities of Manitoba families including:
strengthening health care by ensuring life-saving cancer drugs are free for all Manitobans and taking new steps forward to give every Manitoban access to a family doctor by 2015;
making it easier than ever to become an apprentice in rural and northern communities and ensuring that universities have strong and predictable funding; and
building and renewing thousands of kilometres of roads, and renewing flood-damaged bridges and overpasses.
The minister noted that some have called for deep cuts to balance the budget while others have called for major new spending on new programs. He said the province has instead chosen a balanced approach that protects the things that matter most to Manitobans.
“We are on track to return to balance by 2014. We will get there responsibly without cutting the services that matter most,” said Struthers. “Budget 2012 responds to today’s challenges by finding savings within government so we can continue to invest in the priorities of families while growing our economy.”