More of the Same; Stefanson PCs Reckless Budget Isnít Progressive or Fiscally Conservative

March 7, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB - Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals say the PCs are trying to buy back their trust from Manitobans with a big-promise budget that will not make up for their seven years of cuts and freezes to health care, education, municipalities, and people in need.

"The PCs seem to think they can foul up as badly as they want, and it doesn't matter because they'll just buy their way out of trouble," said Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont. "Even where the budget makes big promises, how can you trust the PCs to fix health, education or infrastructure when they just spent seven years trashing these sectors?"

Lamont added that in every budget since 2016, the PCs boast about their spending promises, which never happen because the public announcement is matched by an internal directive to departments, Regional Health Authorities and Shared Health to keep cutting.

Manitoba Liberals say there are a series of issues unaddressed in this rushed budget, which show the PCs are still out of touch with the needs of Manitobans.

There is no mention of Reconciliation, except one mention of "economic reconciliation," and no mention of returning $338-million that PC and NDP governments illegally took from First Nations children in Manitoba's CFS agencies. The worst discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada is often in provincial systems: health care, education, justice, and CFS. There was no mention of any of these.

Borrowing for billionaires: While running a deficit of $363-million, the PCs are pursuing fiscally reckless and unfunded tax cuts. For property tax rebates, the PCs are borrowing $453-million at ever-rising interest rates, with the largest cheques going to the people with the highest incomes and the most property - including billionaires.

The Government's own documents have warned that Manitoba is too reliant on federal transfers, and that without enough own-source revenue, they are at risk in the event of a downturn - or a change in government at the Federal level.

Manitoba Liberals pointed to a series of issues and gaps in today's budget:

  • Blaming people who are homeless, living in poverty or with addictions for crime, when they are more likely to be victims of crime.
  • On Seniors; There was no mention of increasing number of long-term care beds, and no mention of Manitoba's crumbling homecare system, or of palliative care.
  • On Health Care; While there is a plan to train and attract nurses and doctors, there is no plan to keep them in Manitoba. Funding for physician retention has been frozen and allied health care professionals still have no contract.
  • On Education; The PCs have padded the budget by recycling old announcements of schools - which don't actually provide education.

"When it comes to affordable and accessible childcare, the PCs haven't created the necessary spots needed to keep up with demand. We have a long way to go to ensure people have access without the extremely long wait lists were currently seeing in Manitoba," said Cindy Lamoureux, Manitoba Liberal Early Learning and Child Care Critic and MLA for Tyndall Park.

"This budget minimizes the tremendous amount of work needed to improve health care services in Manitoba, including long wait lists for even getting an appointment for diagnostic services like MRIs," said Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights. "A broader strategy is still missing to treat health care workers with respect, end mandatory overtime, ensure timely access to care and to get home care working well."

Lamont said it is critical to recognize that Provincial Governments and Premiers are responsible for running and delivering most of the important services citizens depend on - Health, Education, the Environment, Child and Family Services, and the Justice System - much of it with billions in federal transfer payments.

"Manitoba needs a plan to rebuild and recover after a pandemic and decades of neglect by both the PCs and NDP. This is more of the same that we've heard for decades, and it hasn't worked," said Lamont. "If we're really going to tap into Manitoba's potential, we need to invest in our own people, our own businesses, our own public services, and in environmental renewal for the long-term. The Manitoba Liberal plan will do that."

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