Statement from Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, on the release of the 2020-2021 Public Accounts:
Treaty One Territory, Métis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - We need to stop pretending the PCs care about public finances, deficits, debt, balanced budgets, or credit downgrades. If the PCs drive the Manitoba government to the brink of bankruptcy, they will use the crisis to justify liquidating the public sector and selling it for pennies on the dollar.
The PCs have already spent the last five years doing exactly that. Our health care system is collapsing and our infrastructure is rotten. The PCs keep holding back investment in both, despite receiving billions in new funding from the Federal Government.
Instead, our debt has been growing, not because of investments in public projects or services, but because the PCs have been borrowing billions to finance tax cuts. These revenue-cut-driven deficits are used to fear monger and justify selloffs of public property and services.
The PCs proceeded with a massive addition to our debt and deficit with this spring's education property tax rebate. In the middle of the worst crisis in a century, the PCs are racking up debt and cutting cheques to wealthy property owners and corporations who won't have to pay it back - the rest of Manitobans will.
This isn't an investment that will pay off for all Manitobans - it's looting the public treasury. The PCs are borrowing over $200-million writing property tax rebates.
If the PC government were a business, they would be going into debt so that their biggest customers didn't have to pay as much. This is guaranteed money-losing proposition, and Manitobans are going to pay for it.
According to the Auditor General, the deficit is $2.612-billion, almost a half-billion dollars more than the Finance Minister says it is, at $2.117-billion. That is about 25% higher. This should be a scandal, but "spinning" numbers as propaganda is business as usual for this government.
The PCs cut $200-million to municipalities, then added it back as "Covid" spending. This is a deception - municipalities are no further ahead. Exactly the same phony claim was made in June 2020, when the PCs tried to pass wheelchair ramps and sprinkler systems in long-term care homes as "Covid" investments.
We can and should be balancing the budget faster, and rebuilding health care, education, municipal infrastructure, and the economy. Those are all investments that would drive growth, create jobs, and help us work our way out of debt.
Above all, Manitobans deserve honest accounting of public finances, and that isn't happening.