When the political infighting that started to raise its ugly head late last year, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) called on government and all politicians to think about what is best for Manitoba (Premier must keep eye on economy – Nov 15 Winnipeg Free Press). Now that the dust has settled and the status quo has remained the same at the Legislature, we approach the release of the provincial budget with as much uncertainty.
From afar, one would think everything is coming up roses in Manitoba. Just last week Statistics Canada shared data showing our economy churned out 19,200 new jobs from March of last year to March of this year, for a year-over-year growth rate of 3.1 per cent. In February, the Conference Board of Canada predicted Manitoba’s economy will be among the strongest in Canada in 2015 and lead all provinces in 2016. While this is positive news for Manitoba, it is happening in spite of a reclusive government that has spent more time putting out internal fires than capitalizing on providing a long-term plan to keep this predicted momentum burning for years to come.
MCC believes that for Manitoba to achieve the level of prosperity needed to take the Manitoba economy to the next level, the provincial government needs to increase its focus in the budgeting process to ensure economic growth is the driving force behind decisions that are made. The Chamber also believes that there are a number of key economic indicators that the provincial government should take into consideration when making decisions in regards to their 2015 Budget deliberations.
During their budgetary process, MCC urged the government to ask itself whether their economic decisions positively influence the following economic indicators:
- GDP per capita – Ensure Manitoba’s GDP per capita is competitive with other Western provinces.
- Provincial Government Spending – Contain annual increases in program spending to two-to-three percent (in line with inflation plus population growth).
- Debt indicator – Have Manitoba’s annual spending as a percentage of GDP level among the top three most competitive when compared with other provinces.
- Labour force growth – Public and Private – Ensure Manitoba’s annual Labour force growth is competitive with other Western provinces.
- Average weekly wages – Have Manitoba’s weekly wage rates among the top five most competitive in comparison with other provinces.
- Interprovincial Migration – Annually have a positive interprovincial migration number.
Entrepreneurial Intensity – Increase the number of businesses in Manitoba by 50% over the next decade.
- Number of head offices in Manitoba – Double the number of head offices in Manitoba over the next decade.
MCC believes that if Provincial Budget 2015 is focused on increasing economic opportunities and prosperity in the province these indicators will be positively influenced. By focusing greater attention on key economic indicators and measuring our success the results will be greater prosperity for all Manitobans. We can’t tinker our way to success and it’s time to focus on growing our economy, creating jobs and leveraging our strengths through a strategic, focused and results driven approach.
If Manitoba can create a business climate that promotes business competitiveness and investment, while maintaining critical social and infrastructure investment, then the province is sure to win the ability to lever even greater economic gains—emboldening a virtuous circle of future growth, prosperity, and opportunity.
Our words from that November missive said, “Manitobans and the business community deserve and require government to provide a blueprint for how they plan to carry on with the business of Manitoba.” We didn’t see it then, we have not seen it in the month since the leadership convention. We remain hopeful that we will see the groundwork for future growth on April 30.