Finance Minister Cameron Friesen presents the provincial budget in the Manitoba Legislature on Tues., April 11, 2017.
The consensus among local leaders is that the newly-released provincial budget is a safe, middle-of-the-road way to go about reducing the deficit.
“It’s a big picture budget where the numbers aren’t changing too much overall,” Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said. “It’s very close to what it was before. It gives the government some room to make the changes they need to make underneath the budget. I think we’re going in the right direction.”
However, RM of Stanley Reeve Morris Olafson said he was expecting more. “It’s pretty calm,” he said. “They’re doing some things, they cut money in different areas, but they didn’t specify where they’re going find a whole bunch more money. It costs money to run the province and you can’t run it without spending money, plain and simple.”
Olafson’s main concern was infrastructure, which took a bit of a hit. “People are used to a certain level of service and it’s hard to cut that back,” he said. “The farming community relies on [infrastructure]. If we can’t get to town in a decent manner, it costs us money. It’s an ongoing battle. I hope the highway department and road crews have enough money to at least do decent maintenance.”
Morden Mayor Ken Wiebe said he is still waiting for some details to come out, but believes it is a positive start. “Some of the things they want to do are very important, like deficit reduction and trying to make sure the taxes in Manitoba are competitive and affordable,” he said.
Wiebe also thinks red tape reduction, one of the things included in the budget, will save money and make doing business easier. “All these things affect small communities as well as large communities,” he said. “They particularly affect businesses, so I think as the days roll by that it’ll all work out.”
Harder had a bit of a warning for the government. “Personally I think that the government should be very careful before they start adding any carbon taxes,” Harder said. “I don’t think Manitobans like that idea at all.” No decision has been made yet about Manitoba’s plan for adding carbon tax.
“We’re just going to have to wait for some of those details to come out,” Wiebe said.