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Manitoba Liberals Offer State of the Province Rebuttal

December 12, 2019

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface Dougald Lamont issued a rebuttal to the Premier's "State of the Province" address, arguing the latest statistics show that the education, health, crime and the economy are all getting worse under the PC government.

"When you look at the results under this government, it's clear that things are getting worse, not better," said Lamont. "With $899-million in new federal transfers this year alone, Manitoba could have a balanced budget right now and we could be investing in improving health, education, and infrastructure."

Lamont said changes in federal transfers over the last ten years have had a colossal impact on the province's finances, both under the NDP and the PCs. For six years, federal transfers to Manitoba under the Harper Conservatives were either flat or dropping - resulting in deficits and higher debt for the province.

The PCs have been putting off balancing the budget, choosing to add billions in debt while borrowing with interest to pay for tax cuts.

Key Indicators

Manitoba's Debt: is $3.59-billion higher today than it was when the PCs took office.

Unemployment: is up 0.3% to 5.6%. This is Manitoba's third-highest unemployment rate since 2000.

Manitoba has undergone two credit downgrades, resulting in higher interest rates for the province, Manitoba Hydro and municipalities. Since then, there has been no upgrades. Like PC governments in Alberta and Ontario, Manitoba's credit rating was downgraded because PCs overstated deficits.

Manitoba's much-touted lead in private investment is because investment elsewhere has tanked. The three major projects - food processing - are highly automated and may only create 300 full-time long-term jobs.

The PCs budgeting has been a bait-and-switch, where promised increases never materialize. Actual spending on health, education and infrastructure have been frozen since 2016. Since inflation is rising, this amounts to a cut.

Economic Development: The PCs still have no concrete economic plan, and no plan for improving access to capital for Manitoba businesses. Instead, they are relying on inflated figures of growth from reduced regulations.

Record Outmigration: Over 19,500 people left Manitoba in 2018-19, the largest number in decades. 10,351 moved to Manitoba, 19,597 left, for a net loss of 9,246.

Education: PISA scores show that student performance under the PCs is even worse than it was under the NDP - last in math and science and second last in reading.

Health Care: While the emphasis has been on ER wait times, the waits for cataracts, knee replacements and hip replacements have been getting steadily worse every year since 2015.

Crime: Manitoba's spike in crime is worse than any other province. The PC government cut funds to municipalities for police as well as mental health and addictions. It is one of the worst years ever for murder in Winnipeg, and property crimes have increased 79%.

Poverty: The number of people on EIA in Manitoba has been growing every year since 2008, and is now at nearly 75,000 - a record high. This is a sign there is something broken with our economy.

Economic Fragility: A year ago, surveys reported that half of Manitobans are $200 a month away from insolvency. A more recent survey shows they now have even less.

Housing: An IMF study suggests that Winnipeg's real estate market is in bubble territory and is among the most overvalued housing markets in Canada. It suggest housing in Winnipeg is 27% overvalued. Housing starts are slowing and a downturn in the market could mean that Manitoba's market is not resilient.

"The Pallister Government has squandered an opportunity to invest and build while receiving record-high transfers from the federal government," said Lamont. "When you look past the spin to the numbers, on everything from health to crime, we're seeing things get worse and it doesn't need to be this way."


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