The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce welcomes the opportunity to share our 2023 Provincial Budget Submission with Manitoba’s business community.
For Manitoba to achieve the level of prosperity needed to lift our economy to a level that is genuinely competitive with other Canadian jurisdictions, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce firmly believes that the Government of Manitoba must enhance its focus on economic growth and competitiveness in the budgeting process. As we recover from a global pandemic and navigate both high inflation and unprecedented talent shortages, the economy must be the driving force behind government decision-making.
Firstly, it is critically important that the provincial government focuses its attention and efforts on mitigating the acute labour market shortage that is causing uncertainty for Manitoba businesses and workers. Secondly, in today’s globally competitive business environment, it is imperative that our government creates a climate that attracts new business and enables existing businesses to grow and thrive.
It is with these priorities in mind that the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce asks the Government of Manitoba to consider our proposed recommendations and focus on increasing economic opportunities and prosperity for all Manitobans. Here are some highlights:
Economic Competitiveness, Development and Trade
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce commends the Government of Manitoba for its commitment to reviewing the province’s taxation framework. The provincial government must ensure that economic growth is the driving force behind decisions to make Manitoba more competitive. To that end, we ask the provincial government to focus on personal taxes and the payroll tax as it works with the Tax Competitiveness Working Group to review Manitoba’s tax structure. While a reduction to the payroll tax has consistently been a primary concern for the business community, according to the 2022 Manitoba Business Outlook Survey, 35% of businesses say that reducing personal income tax will have the most significant impact on business growth and success in Manitoba. In addition, we ask the provincial government to:
- Take a leadership role in advancing Manitoba as a top jurisdiction in the world for mineral exploration and development investment.
- Work with the federal government on the mutual recognition of regulations, rules, and policies to allow for the free movement of labour, goods, and services in and out of Manitoba, and the reduction of exceptions as currently established within the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, with a view of making Manitoba more competitive and growing our provincial economy.
- Develop a clear and robust trade strategy in Manitoba to build international trade opportunities for Manitoba businesses, and to take full advantage of our province’s export potential.
Talent and Workforce Shortages
Canada is facing critical labour market shortages and it is causing uncertainty for Canadian businesses and workers. In Manitoba, chambers of commerce members have identified employee recruitment and retention as their single greatest challenge this year. Practically, this has meant that without the requisite staff to fill regular shifts, many businesses have been obligated to reduce operating capacity. In 2023, with a highly mobile workforce and labour shortages across the country, a competitive economic landscape is intrinsically linked to our ability to both retain and compete for talent. To that end, MCC recommends that the provincial government takes the following actions related to workforce challenges:
- Commit to addressing the enhancement of Labour Market Information (LMI) through interprovincial collaboration and to consider the establishment of a cross-ministry led committee to improve collection and coordination of timely and accurate LMI.
- Provide incremental, flexible funding, that can be used at the discretion of Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions/colleges for single or short-term program offerings in response to identified labour market demand in support of economic growth.
- Commit to college program expansion aimed at addressing skill and labour shortages across the province. This includes the establishment of a new $30 million College Growth Fund. The expansion should focus on 1- and 2-year certificate/diploma programs and must include increased funding for Indigenous post-secondary education and related wrap around supports.
- Encourage the Government of Manitoba to undertake a public campaign to profile the Manitoba Advantage to other provinces, with the view of attracting potential workers to our province to address some of our workforce challenges. This campaign could also be used to highlight specific businesses that call Manitoba home or sectors with growth opportunities.
Childcare must be considered critical infrastructure in Manitoba, and an affordable and accessible childcare framework is necessary to support workforce participation and economic growth. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce commends the provincial government for its focus on the development of physical childcare spaces, but if these spaces cannot be staffed by qualified early childhood educators, the physical infrastructure is not serving its purpose, and we are not serving Manitoba’s economy. To that end, we ask the provincial government to collaborate with post-secondary institutions to ensure that Manitoba has sufficient training opportunities for early childhood education, and with industry partners to advance early learning and childcare education as a valued and well-compensated profession.
Manitoba has one of the largest physician shortages in Canada. The problem is even more serious in rural, Northern and Indigenous communities. Shortages are making it more difficult to find a family physician and create challenges with maintaining acute care services. This past summer, ERs at two thirds of rural Manitoba hospitals were closed full time or part time, and access to care in First Nations communities has deteriorated significantly, leading to poorer outcomes for Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba.
Health and economic issues are closely linked. In fact, there is a demonstrated direct correlation between a community’s level of physician care, and that community’s economic potential and long-term sustainability. Our ability to recruit and retain more physicians in rural and Northern Manitoba will be an important contributor to our future economy.
Last fall, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and Doctors Manitoba, after extensive consultation, released a joint report with recommendations to attract and retain more physicians to rural and Northern Manitoba. Accordingly, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has the following recommendations for the Government of Manitoba:
- As part of the recently announced increase to physician training seats in Manitoba, expand its focus on admitting more students and residents from rural, Northern, and Indigenous communities, as well as facilitate more practice experience in these communities.
- Engage Indigenous leadership on physician shortages in Indigenous communities, as well as on training, recruiting, and retaining more Indigenous physicians, in accordance with Call to Action 23 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Read our full 2023 Provincial Budget Submission.