Treaty One Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberals say the PCs are continuing to deceive Manitobans with misleading projections and numbers in their latest 2021 Budget.
"The PCs are doing what they always do: promising gold, and delivering pyrite. They keep promising investments that they never deliver. At a time of crisis, that is reckless," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "They are ignoring the needs of the vast majority of Manitobans while going out of their way to shovel borrowed money towards the wealthiest property owners and businesses in the province - including the Premier himself."
Lamont said there are better ways of providing relief than deep property tax cuts, which mean that Manitobans will be going into debt to cut cheques - the biggest of which will go to the largest property owners in Manitoba - farms, commercial companies and even pipelines.
"Pallister is tracking up hundreds of millions of dollars and because this tax cut overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy, they won't be on the hook for paying it back and they may not even live in Manitoba," said Lamont. "People may not like property taxes, but one of the reasons they work is that they are the hardest for tax cheats to avoid."
Manitoba Liberals met with Finance Minister Scott Fielding prior to the budget release to discuss the priorities they would have liked to see in the budget - stability, relief and a plan for recovery.
The PCs did include some Manitoba Liberal suggestions, but Lamont said they were all half-measures.
On the Manitoba Liberals' recommendation, the budget extended coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGM) and insulin pumps, but placed severe restrictions on it.
"We are extremely concerned that the coverage only extends to eligible youth, and that they have cut everyone off at the age of 25, leaving seniors and adults out," said Lamont.
There was also a slight improvement to the payroll tax, which penalizes hiring and wage increases, that the Liberals have advocated reducing.
Increases in Early Childhood Education are minimal, and desperately needed investments in Seniors homes are all located in Tory-held ridings.
The promise of investing more in Health Care or Education rings hollow after the PCs continued to dismantle the system and underspend in the middle of a pandemic.
"Pallister has been promising an economic development plan every year since before he was elected, and he still doesn't have one," said Lamont.
The PCs are cutting a number of oversight agencies that oversee police and protect tenants and workers while increasing spending on budgets in PC offices.
Residential Tenancy Board - cut by $106,000.
Workplace Safety and Health - cut by $306,000
Labour Board - cut by $116,000
Employment standards - cut by $263,000
The Independent Investigations Unit (IIU) - cut by $40,000
LERA - cut by $30,000
Licensing and compliance under Health and Seniors Care has been frozen.
Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet- increased by $88,000
Treasury Board Secretariat - increased by $96,000
Administration and Finance in the Department of Finance - increased by $403,000
"Nurses have been without a contract for four years, but the PCs are pumping up their own staffing budgets by up to 6%. It's shameful," said Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Tyndall Park.
Dr. Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Environment Critic said the budget is a lost opportunity.
"Manitoba is perfectly suited to be part of a green recovery, but it was virtually unmentioned in the budget. This is a blown opportunity," said Gerrard.
Despite the PCs boast about Climate Change, the Green Plan implementation office was cut, and Environmental Stewardship is down $476,000.
Many desperately needed investments are being ignored. Six years after first being elected, the PCs still have no plan for economic development.