News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

March 2, 2017


Budget will Reflect Government's Commitment to Prudent Fiscal Management, Carefully Restore Stability to Manitoba: Friesen

Members of Manitoba’s Advisory Panel on Fiscal Performance, co-chaired by Janice MacKinnon,  former Saskatchewan finance minister, and Dave Angus, former Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, have been tasked with assessing value-for-money core government programs and services and are making recommendations as part of the development of Budget 2017, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Our government committed to Manitobans that we would take the necessary steps to responsibly return our province to balance after the previous administration left us with a deficit of nearly $900 million, two credit downgrades and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt-servicing charges,” said Friesen.  “We must address these issues to ensure the sustainability of the services that our citizens and their families rely on, something that was put in jeopardy by spending outpacing revenues year-after-year.”

The panel is reviewing the KPMG reports commissioned by the Manitoba government on both health-care innovation and fiscal performance as well as the feedback received during the province’s extensive pre-budget consultation, a process that involved significant engagement by Manitobans, members of the civil service and front-line workers.

More than 100 written submissions, 220 online submissions and 1,000 citizen budget responses were received during the pre-budget consultation process conducted by government between September and early December, Friesen noted, adding that 340 Manitobans attended five community meetings held throughout the province.  Key themes included finding ways to reduce waste, inefficiency and unnecessary administrative costs, investing in health promotion and prevention, looking at opportunities for innovation in front-line services, such as health care and child care, focusing on improved education outcomes and investing in infrastructure. 

“Our mandate is to provide recommendations to government on budgetary measures that will ensure Manitoba is on a path to a strong financial foundation for growth with prudent investments in front-line services,” said MacKinnon.  “We are taking a hard look at Manitoba’s financial outlook – its deficit, the funds spent on servicing debt and the two credit rating downgrades that have resulted from a failure to address these financial challenges in the past.  Manitobans have clearly said they want government to make smart investments in programs that are working well and to look at improving how services are delivered.”

Fiscal management and deficit reduction remain two of the Manitoba government’s core priorities and the province is engaged in an ongoing consultation process with union leadership to find solutions to the very serious fiscal challenges facing the province, the minister said.  The government’s focus is on a road to recovery through necessary reform, to provide better protection and job security to front-line workers as well as to ensure lower taxes for Manitobans, he added.

To that end, the panel is reviewing the work of the Red Tape Reduction Task Force to identify and eliminate impediments to growth and is taking a keen interest in labour reform including the critical need to reduce the number of bargaining units within the health-care system, where there are a staggering 169 separate bargaining units and collective agreements.

“Each of these exercises being undertaken by the provincial government is resulting in recommendations for the elimination of waste, inefficiency and unnecessary administrative costs,” said Angus.  “Our panel is analyzing all of this information and identifying measures across government that we believe will improve both the effectiveness and the responsiveness of the services delivered by, and to, Manitobans.  We are pleased to be able to review such a wide array of information and will be providing our recommendations directly to the minister of finance as the government finalizes Budget 2017.”

Friesen also announced that Budget 2017 will be tabled on Tuesday, April 11 and will reflect the government’s commitment to prudent fiscal management and transparent accountable budgeting as it carefully returns Manitoba to balance.  He acknowledged the budget will reflect difficult but necessary decisions, giving thoughtful consideration to both short-term benefits for Manitobans and their ability to secure a sustainable and prosperous future.

Under the previous administration, spending grew by an average of nearly four per cent over the past seven years.  The minister noted that if spending had been allowed to continue at that rate, Manitoba’s deficit would have nearly doubled to almost $1.7 billion by 2019-20. 

“Previous government commitments were never going to be achievable within the current fiscal realities of our province.  In addition, there was a need to address critical infrastructure maintenance, including the province’s emergency communications system, and a failure to provide appropriate oversight or accountability for millions of taxpayer dollars spent on untendered contracts via the East Side Road Authority,” said Friesen.  “These actions placed our province on a path to even higher debt and increased debt-servicing costs as interest rates rise.  This is the fiscal reality we are committed to addressing as we pursue both the discipline and commitment to services that Manitobans expect from their government.”

- 30 -