Fresh off delivering his second provincial budget, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen delved deeper into the mechanics of Budget 2017. In front of a business crowd of more than 300 people, Minister Friesen spent more than 20 minutes to take those in the crowd through the government’s process, built primarily, Friesen stressed on public and stakeholder consultation, of designing a budget that will put Manitoba back on the road to balance and economic growth.
Titled “Responsible Recovery,” the minister talked about how this document takes a moderate and responsible approach, and above all else, is the right one for the province. Over the course of his address, he talked about the idea of the budget not to simply being about just cutting and saving money, but to use money smarter that will produce improved results for Manitobans. He pointed to how provinces, like B.C., spend less than Manitoba but produce stronger results for their citizens. Friesen drove home the point that “the results of previous government spending has not shown results.”
From the perspective of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC), Budget 2017 takes another needed step on addressing and reducing the competitive disadvantage Manitoba business face, but we remain concerned that the path towards a balanced budget and restoring business confidence seems to be well on the horizon. Minister Friesen addressed that concern by saying this budget sets the government on track to meet their targets and that good government is one that makes good, sound decisions for their citizens.
Upon examining the numbers, MCC is concerned with the amount of money we have dedicated to debt servicing, reported in the budget to be $991 million this year, as well as a projected $779 million deficit. The focus for the future should be on lowering that number and showing businesses that we are stable and open for investment, something echoed by Minister Friesen. He made it clear that the money being used to pay interest on the debt would be better used to help front line services.
You can read more about MCC’s opinion of the budget by reading the latest commentary from MCC President and CEO Chuck Davidson.