PCs $1.25-billion in Cuts Will Shrink Manitoba Economy by 2%

April 21, 2020

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say Brian Pallister's panicky plan to cut $1.25-billion will leave deep scars on Manitoba's economy and threaten the closure of two of Manitoba's universities, the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University.

The province released a Treasury Board document asking post-secondary and other institutions to make budget cuts of up to 30%, claiming it is necessary to "help" health care workers with COVID-19. The document says everyone should "row together" because everyone must "adapt" to the new reality.

Post-secondary institutions in Manitoba cannot run deficits and the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University do not have reserves to cover massive cuts. With cuts of 30%, they may have little choice but to close their doors.

Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, said the Treasury Board document is misleading in the information it presents and is dangerously misguided in the recommendations it makes. When the private sector is shedding jobs at a record pace, the last thing government should do is make the recession deeper and Longer - but that is exactly what the PCs proposed cuts will do.

"This is not a rescue plan, it is an economic suicide pact," said Lamont. "Pallister's plan will make unemployment worse, make the recovery harder, and could close the doors of two public universities. No one should buy what the Premier is selling."

Manitoba Liberals say universities are an essential part of Manitoba's economy and can play a critical role in getting Manitoba back out of the recession with education, training and research.

Lamont said Pallister's plan to find $1.25-billion in cuts during the worst recession since the Great Depression is reckless because every single dollar the Premier claws bank out of the hands of a public sector employee is a dollar lost to the economy.

The Treasury Board document's economic projections are that Manitoba's economy won't grow by 1.3% this year, but is projected to shrink by -3.1%. Lamont argued that cutting $1.25-billion would shrink the economy even further, by -4.8%.

"Pallister is saying that people have no choice but to take pay cuts and lose their jobs, and that is just not true," said Lamont. "The Premier doesn't have a problem with deficits when they are being used to lower his own taxes. It's the Premier who needs to adapt, not precarious workers."



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