On May 31, Manitoba Minister of Finance, Cameron Friesen, presented the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Government’s 2016 Budget. The new budget has been referred to as a ‘hybrid budget’ and labeled as fiscally disciplined. The Minister plans to balance the over $1-billion dollar deficit Manitoba is currently facing over the next eight years. The Minister is forecasting a deficit of $911 million for 2016-17, down $100 million from last year. Budget 2016 includes no new taxes or tax increases and will not draw from the Fiscal Stabilization Fund.
Here is a brief overview for how this budget will affect PCA members doing work in Manitoba.
For the first time in over fifteen year, Manitoba has a budget delivered by a Conservative government. Following the victory of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba last month, budget 2016 is largely focused on fulfilling campaign promises and identifying the challenges left behind by the previous NDP government. The party may also be working on managing expectations for their time in government, as their lengthy plan does not balance the budget until near the end of a potential second term.
- Committed to spending no less than $1-billion annually on strategic infrastructure
- The level of investment in 2016/17 is over $1.8 billion. This investment will be in roads and bridges, flood protection, hospitals, schools, universities and colleges, as well as municipal projects and other infrastructure
Education and Training
- $37-million (1.4 per cent) increase in funding for education and training over the current core government 2015-16 forecast including a 2.55 per cent increase in funding for schools to support initiatives in early years reading, new schools, resources for at-risk and Indigenous students, the full implementation of the Masters of Social Worker – Indigenous Knowledge Program at the University of Manitoba, and operating increases of 2.5 per cent for universities and two per cent for colleges
- Education for workforce training was built in to the broader spending on education, so exact figures for workforce training are still to be determined
- Through the first quarter of 2016, both labour force and employment growth slowed when compared to the same period in 2015, but projections for growth in the future are positive. The Manitoba Finance Survey of Economic Forecasts shows an expected 0.4% growth in employment this year and improving to 1.1% growth in 2017, in line with the national average. The unemployment rate is expected to average 5.8% in 2016, tied for the lowest among provinces and anticipated to fall to 5.5% in 2017.
- Increased provincial contribution to new construction, improvement and maintenance costs through the Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation; support for early learning and child care; increased resources for the victims of crime; and additional resources to provide support for Syrian refugees.
Bottom line for PCA members
There are a number of positive aspects to this budget for PCA members, with increased focus on infrastructure spending being the main highlight. This increased spending, particularly in 2016-17, may mean more opportunities for PCA member companies interested in work in Manitoba.
You can find all the relevant budget documents here.
For more information on what the 2016 Manitoba Budget could mean for you and your business, or if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Darrel Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org.