Under The Dome
PC government listening to the views of Manitobans
Our government believes in listening to Manitobans, and we have done so since taking office more than 17 months ago. We respect their views on the important issues facing our province, as we govern in partnership with them.
What Manitobans have told us, through unprecedented participation in pre-budget consultations this fall – including one held in the Riding Mountain constituency on Oct. 2 – is we’re correct in taking our moderate approach to fixing our province’s finances and working toward fiscal balance. We will continue to take this approach by looking within our government for efficiencies, controlling expenditure growth and reducing senior management – not by adding a tax burden to Manitoba families.
With this in mind, we will not proceed with a health-care premium at any point in our first term. Through the consultations we launched in September with public meetings, telephone town halls and an online survey, it’s clear Manitobans do not support a health-care premium. They have indicated they want us to make some reallocation decisions to move toward a balanced budget, though our government believes that leaving more money in the hands of Manitobans is positive for our economy and for Manitoba families.
We do, however, have a deferred health-care premium in the form of a large deficit left to Manitobans by the previous NDP administration, and we’re continuing to work to fix this mess we inherited. If we had continued on the path of the NDP, Manitoba’s deficit would have climbed to $1.7 billion by 2019. But our government has made strong progress in reducing the deficit to $764 million, which is $147 million lower than budgeted for the fiscal year.
We are committed to further reducing the deficit by at least $100 million per year. This will assist, over time, in moving Manitoba back to sustainability and to a more secure health-care system.
It will take hard work to maintain this progress. A decade of deficit spending by the NDP has led to a debt that doubled within six fiscal years, and three credit rating downgrades have increased the cost of borrowing. We have budgeted almost a billion dollars just for debt service costs this year. At the same time, the threat of higher interest rates adds pressure to our fiscal situation and federal transfer payments are decreasing. Our current situation is simply unsustainable.
Manitobans generally agree we are on the right track. By Oct. 24, close to 37,000 of them had provided input through our consultations and 49 percent urged us to continue on this path. Our online survey has brought more than 18,000 responses. More than 16,000 people have taken part in the telephone town halls, and hundreds have attended consultation meetings held by all members of the PC caucus.
Our government needs this input from Manitobans as we make these important choices. We have 17 years of mismanagement to clean up, and have had a little over 17 months to start. We are undertaking this work with enthusiasm and passion, and doing it with Manitobans as our guide.
Greg Nesbitt is the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Riding Mountain. He can be reached at 204-759-3313, toll-free 1-844-877-7767 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.