Budget 2024: No Major Surprises for Manitoba Business

Apr 3, 2024 | Front Page, Government News, Policy

On April 2, the Honourable Adrien Sala, Minister of Finance, delivered the Government of Manitoba’s 2024 budget address at the Manitoba Legislature. This year’s budget comes against the backdrop of pressing challenges, including strains on the healthcare system, labour shortages, inflation, and the need to grow the economy. In navigating these complex issues, the government faced difficult decisions regarding its fiscal priorities.

There were no huge surprises in Budget 2024. The government remained consistent with their mandate outlined in the 2023 election platform. Included in the government’s planned affordability measures are continued increases to the Basic Personal Amount and a 3-month extension of the gas tax holiday. Notably, Minister Sala announced an additional $1.4 billion in spending across all departments, with the health sector receiving a significant boost of $980 million over the previous budget, bringing its total allocation to $8.2 billion.

To fuel this increased spending, Manitoba has posted a nearly $2 billion deficit and has become increasingly reliant on federal transfer payments. Federal transfers as a share of total revenue increased to a record 35.5 per cent in 2024/2025. This reliance on sources outside of provincial control or influence is concerning. Major federal transfers from Ottawa (i.e., Canada Health Transfer, Canada Social Transfer, and Equalization) will grow by 16 per cent to $6.9 billion this year – the largest increase in Manitoba’s modern history.

  • Measures to Support Economic Growth and Competitiveness
    The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) acknowledges the government’s efforts to enhance economic growth and competitiveness, particularly through measures aimed at improving the personal income tax framework. Initially promised in last year’s budget, this will bring Manitoba more in line with the rest of the country. Yet, the absence of a commitment to address the payroll tax, identified by Manitoba business leaders as a significant impediment to growth, is a missed opportunity.
  • Trade and Export Potential
    We commend the provincial government for committing to the development of a comprehensive trade strategy — something we have long been calling for. In 2023, Manitoba exported over $15.5 billion of a total $21.5 billion in exports to the United States. The only other country that imported over $1 billion in goods from Manitoba was China. This reliance on a single trade partner shows the potential for significant export growth that can be fostered with greater awareness of Manitoba products and companies.
  • Investment in Early Childhood Education
    Furthermore, while Budget 2024 introduces promising initiatives such as the increased investment in early childhood education with $15.9 million for the construction of new childcare spaces and $5 million to increase wages for childcare workers. With an estimated shortage of 1,000 Early Childhood Educators in the province, the workforce shortage is a significant impediment to supporting parents as they re-enter the workforce after having a child. An affordable, accessible, and high-quality early learning childcare framework is necessary to support workforce participation and economic growth.
  • Support for Municipalities
    Local levels of government have increasingly been navigating a combination of downloaded responsibilities and underfunding, which has created significant challenges for municipalities. We commend the provincial government for ending the municipal funding freeze and for its commitment to working with municipal stakeholders to develop a reliable and flexible multi-year funding model. Municipalities have long been calling for a fair and predictable funding model, and we look forward to receiving more details as they become available.
  • Talent Retention and Development
    In 2024, with a highly mobile workforce and labour shortages across the country, a competitive economic landscape is intrinsically linked to our ability to compete for talent. We await more details on several elements of Budget 2024, including the development of a new economic development strategy, Manitoba’s new $50-million Strategic Innovation Fund, the $1.5 million commitment to increase to apprenticeship training seats, and how $1 million for adult education will practically address skills gaps in our province.

In conclusion, Budget 2024 underscores the ongoing commitment to address pressing issues facing Manitobans. Moving forward, collaboration between government and industry stakeholders will be essential in effectively implementing economic policies that respond to the needs of businesses and communities. The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce and the wider business community remain committed to driving economic growth, fostering innovation, and creating a climate where businesses can thrive, ultimately benefiting all Manitobans.

Click here to watch the budget speech
Click here to read Budget 2024

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