WINNIPEG - In anticipation for the provincial budget, Manitoba Liberals met with Finance Minister Scott Fielding yesterday to discuss their priorities and concerns in this year’s budget.
Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, said a major concern is that the PC Government is receiving record increases in transfers from the Federal Government, but isn’t investing. Transfers have increased by 17% in the last four years — an astonishing $899-million this year alone.
“The PCs are imposing cuts, freezes and are liquidating public assets while receiving record transfers from the Federal Government,” said Lamont. “The budget could be balanced right now. We could even be in surplus and we could be investing in building instead of more cuts.”
The Manitoba Liberals made dozens of recommendations, but the top five are:
- Introduce a “carbon credit” program, so that families, businesses municipalities and farmers can get funding or tax breaks for projects that fight climate change.
- Cover psychological therapy under Medicare, so all Manitobans have access to mental health care without requiring private insurance.
- Create a provincial diabetes prevention strategy and cover 100% of the costs of insulin pumps and diabetes supplies. Preventing complications of diabetes can prevent heart attacks, strokes, amputations, kidney disease and blindness.
- Priority Infrastructure Investments: Upgrades to Chief Peguis, the Keewatin Trade corridor between the Pas and Saskatchewan and upgrading winter roads to First Nations can all boost growth, reduce costs, and environmental impacts.
- For Seniors, establish an independent Senior’s Advocate who can investigate and report on issues facing seniors, and increase home care funding by 10%.
Manitoba Liberals said one of the biggest problems with the carbon tax as it has been set up is that it is “all stick and no carrot.” They said the best approach would be to create a “carbon credit” program as a parallel program to incentivize or reward individuals, municipalities and others for acting on climate action.
“It’s not enough to simply put a price on pollution, we should be rewarding people for helping make real change and that is something a carbon credit program would do,” said Lamont.
The Manitoba Liberal alternate budget’s priorities also included action on Health Care, Education, Infrastructure, Municipal Relations, Justice, Indigenous Relations, Agriculture, and Economic Development.
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