Few issues matter more than the provincial budget in shaping the health, happiness and quality of life of Manitobans. It impacts every citizen, every business and every community in Manitoba.
It's our privilege to speak on behalf of our 2,100 member organizations on issues that shape community prosperity. When the government put out the call for input - and we applaud their track record of wide consultations - we provided the following key points (and our detailed submission) on how Manitoba can achieve its full potential.
1. Establish a tax commission to improve the tax system
Manitoba’s tax system has been without a comprehensive review for 18 years. A lot has changed in that time period, and our tax system doesn’t account for things such as the sharing economy. We recommend the development of a commission to establish a fairer, simpler and more competitive tax system.
2. Outline your plan to reduce the deficit
Manitoba can improve its credit rating and economic outlook by outlining a plan to get the deficit under control. A summary loss of $764 million this past year is an improvement, but Manitoba remains one of only two provinces that doesn’t have a firm timeline for getting back to balance.
3. Enable better access to capital and labour
To improve economic performance, we need to improve investment conditions, including access to a skilled and highly qualified workforce. A made-in-Manitoba access to capital strategy will encourage new investment into the Province. As recently as 2014, Manitoba tied PEI as the worst provincial performer in this area, with zero venture capital investment.
4. Improve value for money in government services
Manitobans consistently expect better value-for-money from our government while balancing demands for improved social outcomes and service delivery. The Chamber appreciates the value-for-money audit that has been undertaken and the initial steps toward developing social impact bonds in Manitoba, we also hope the government explores unique opportunities to innovate service delivery models.
5. Civic Partnership
The City of Winnipeg is also facing significant fiscal challenges, and unlike the Province of Manitoba, they have to balance their budget each year. Without revenue increases, the estimated gap between total expenditures and revenue could be as high as $400 million by 2027 for the City of Winnipeg, and that doesn’t account for the infrastructure deficit. With both governments facing fiscal challenges, a strong partnership is needed.
6. Carbon Price Revenue
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce applauds the Province for their Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, as opposed to the federal one size fits all system. Regardless of pricing levels, any revenues raised must not go to debt or deficit reduction, or into general revenue. Carbon pricing revenues must go to help offset the increased costs on low-income Manitobans and towards initiatives that will lower our greenhouse gas emissions.