Government Pledges to Protect Services, Families In Light of Economic Downturn
A framework designed to respond to challenges facing Manitoba during the global recession, preserve services for families such as health care, education and training, and enhancing public safety was unveiled today during the launch of the fourth session of the 39th legislative assembly.
The speech from the throne, read by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee, congratulated Manitobans for responding to emergencies already faced this year such as the H1N1 pandemic, the second-worst flood this century and the global economic crisis.
The speech outlined a number of economic challenges the province is facing and the steps being taken to minimize them:
- although Manitoba is projected to have the best economic performance of any province this year and significantly outperform the national economy, the province’s economic performance is forecast to contract by 0.2 per cent in 2009;
- Manitoba has been hit hard by the H1N1 flu pandemic, costing the provincial treasury more than $100-million; and
- earlier this year, Manitoba suffered the second-worst flood in the history of the province.
To combat these challenges the government will:
- organize a 2010 economic summit, led by the premier and bringing business, labour, Aboriginal and local government leaders together to deal with issues such as innovation and trade, skills development and investment;
- say no to the harmonization sales tax (HST) to ensure Manitoba families are not hit with more than $400 million in new sales taxes during challenging economic times;
- proceed with promised elimination of the corporation capital tax and small business tax;
- maintain investments in the stimulus infrastructure projects that are fuelling the economic recovery;
- draw on Manitoba’s rainy day savings account, which has nearly quadrupled over the past decade to $864 million, to support the national stimulus program and added costs in health care, justice and child protection;
- target spending on essential services that Manitoba families depend on like front-line health care, training opportunities, public safety and child protection;
- reduce spending in other areas, with most government departments on pace to be below budgeted amounts;
- introduce new regulations under the Pension Benefits Act, similar to those under consideration at the federal level, that will improve protection for Manitoban’s pension plans;
- introduce a property tax deferral program for cottages to respond to property tax increases resulting from reassessment in 2010;
- provide no general salary increase for cabinet ministers; and
- ensure Manitoba remains one of the most affordable places in Canada to live, work and raise a family.
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