Pallister Budget Still Obsolete

March 19, 2020

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the PCs budget calculations are based on extremely optimistic projections for revenue that don't take into consideration the impacts of measures to combat pandemic COVID-19. While the PCs have announced emergency funding, there are no details as to how the money will be spent.

The claim that Manitoba's economy is strong ignores the fact that more than half of Manitobans are on the brink of insolvency, low oil prices, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of the PCs economic and revenue estimates are no longer accurate. The government's estimate of 1.3% GDP growth and low unemployment rate is no longer likely. Additionally, their prediction for income tax revenue and from Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is too high - a revenue increase of $712 million is unlikely to materialize because of a possible pandemic recession.

The budget acknowledges the wild variation, and that the COVID-19 pandemic could result in a $682-million in costs if GDP drops by 2.4%. In China and other countries, GDP has dropped by 10%.

"The PCs are managing to cut, freeze, and run up debt all at the same time. It is a trifecta of fiscal incompetence at a time of crisis," said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface. "The fact that the NDP held up the budget is shameful, but the fact that the PCs have done nothing but tack on a vague promise of help while cutting everything else is an abdication of leadership."

Manitoba Liberals say a complete economic update is still required.

The PCs are, once again, not adequately funding health care at a time that we are seeing major changes in the system and an expected surge in the system as a result of COVID-19. In this year's budget, there is no clear indication of how the government will address the COVID-19 pandemic and whether any investments will be made to address pressing and critical needs in healthcare, such as the shortfall in respiratory therapists and critical care (ICU) nurses. The government also failed to address other critical shortfalls such as funding insulin pumps for type-1 diabetics of all ages.

Similar to their 'Made in Manitoba Green Plan', the budget does not properly address environmental concerns with significant goals or targets to make Manitoba a leader in climate change.

Housing continues to be an issue for Manitobans as the waitlist continues to rise.

"If the PCs were serious about their concerns with Manitoba's finances, they would not be offering yet another PST reduction at a time of a global pandemic, while still trying to balance the budget," said Lamont.



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