Protecting Services is Manitobans Top Budget Priority: Poll

April 12, 2013

The Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union (MGEU) commissioned a public poll in late January, 2013 asking Manitobans what their priorities are for the Provincial Budget. The poll identified protecting public services and jobs as Manitobans’ overwhelming 2013 Budget priority. Manitobans also indicated they prefer a halt to job cuts in the public sector, small personal tax increases over service cuts, higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, and the modernization of balanced budget legislation.

“To our knowledge this is still the only poll public poll that asked a random sample of Manitobans in both rural and urban communities what direction they wanted the government to take in Budget 2013,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “When the Manitoba Government unveils its budget next week, our hope is Manitobans priorities will be reflected and respected.”

The public poll of 805 Manitobans (conducted by Viewpoints Research) January 22nd – 31st, 2013 is considered accurate between within 3.2%, 19 times out of 20. Among the poll’s findings:

– 47% of Manitobans identified protecting public services as their top budget priority, compared to stimulating the economy (20%), balancing the budget (18.6%), or cutting taxes (11%);
– 49% of Manitobans prefer a small tax increase to protect public services than service cuts (29%);
– 80% of Manitobans want to see increased income taxes on corporations and on households with before-tax annual incomes of $200,000 to support key services;
– 77% say it’s more important to protect public services than balance budgets by arbitrary dates;
– 75% want stronger justice measures than balancing budgets by arbitrary dates;
– 74% believe we should change balanced budget legislation to bring it into line with other provinces;
– 67% of Manitobans say the government should not eliminate the 600 jobs it has announced.

Based on the public polling, and the advice of its membership, MGEU offered some of the following recommendations to the government in its 2013 Budget Brief:
– Commit to protecting public services even if it means taking longer to balance the budget;
– Address workloads for workers like correctional officers and social workers;
– Modernize balanced budget legislation;
– Pause introduction of new programs until adequate resources are in place;
– Consolidate the investment arms of Manitoba’s major pension funds to strengthen financial returns;
– Increase taxes on corporations and top income earners to support key services;
– Offer multi-year funding to social service agencies and community colleges;
– Pilot community paramedicine in select rural areas to extend health care services to Manitobans;
– Better coordinate timing, tendering and contracts for large infrastructure projects;
– Strengthen government purchasing through the Materials Distribution Agency.

“This is a very important Budget, and it will set a course not just for this year but for years to come. The MGEU are offering common sense proposals which allow for the protection of vital programs and services while maintaining fiscal prudence,” Gawronsky said. “Clearly, that’s what Manitobans expect from their government.”