Manitoba Budget – Highlights for Working Families

April 16, 2013

The Manitoba government presented its 2013 budget in the legislature today. Budget highlights include:

  • A 1% increase in the PST, with the additional revenue dedicated to infrastructure and flood protection;
  • A target of Budget 2016 for returning the budget to balance;
  • The minimum wage will rise by 20 cents to $10.45/hour, the highest in Canada;
  • Although overall program spending is down 2.1%, the Labour Department’s budget will remain essentially flat. The Workplace Safety and Health Division will see a small increase in funding.
  • 11 government departments will see their budgets remain flat or decrease. Areas that will see spending increases include child protection, corrections, health care, colleges and universities (though increases for colleges and universities will be less than promised in recent years). Program efficiency reviews will be conducted across government to identify savings;
  • New training programs will target people with barriers to employment;
  • The RentAid housing benefit will be increased and there will be incentives and investments for new affordable housing.

The Manitoba Federation of Labour accepts that new revenue needs to be raised to to avoid deep cuts to front-line services and jobs, and to maintain infrastructure investments. However, the MFL is concerned that the budget asks working families to pay more without asking corporations and upper income earners to pay more of their fair share.

“Manitobans have told us they want those who have benefited most from the billion dollars in tax cuts over the past decade to contribute their faire share,” said MFL President Kevin Rebeck.

The MFL welcomes the minimum wage increase, but is concerned that it does not move Manitoba much closer to a living wage.

“A 20 cents increase will help the working poor keep up with inflation, but it doesn’t get them to a living wage,” said Rebeck. “Everyone who works full time should be able to earn a decent living.”

Although the budget avoided deep cuts, the MFL is concerned that overall program spending is down, and that 600 jobs will be lost. 

“Cutting 600 jobs from the civil service is not a good way to support economic recovery,” said Rebeck.