The Government of Manitoba’s recent speech from the throne outlined the province’s response to the growing global financial crisis by committing to balance this year’s budget, continue personal, corporate and small business tax reductions, boost skills training and invest $4.7 billion in provincial infrastructure over four years in order to grow the economy and better position the province once stability returns to the world economy.
The speech went on to say that while provincial growth is forecasted to slow in many provinces next year, Manitoba’s economy is projected to grow in 2009 and that this province is well positioned to weather the impacts of a global economic slowdown. It emphasized that affordable government within a balanced budget framework will remain a key element of Manitoba’s growth strategy.
To this end, the speech committed the province to a balanced and prudent approach to managing the province’s finances focusing on maintaining economic stability, investing strategically and expanding skills training in order to ensure the Manitoba economy is more strongly positioned for global economic recovery.
In order to maintain economic stability, the speech committed to:
- balancing the 2008 budget without running a deficit while continuing to make a $110 million debt payment;
- following through on personal, corporate and small business tax reductions for businesses and citizens;
- boosting availability of credit by immediately expanding key loan programs;
- creating a new Operating Credit Guarantee program for rural enterprises; and
- adding flexibility to pension regulations to help ensure workers’ assets are protected and that businesses do not have to declare bankruptcy or cut benefits as a result of plan shortfalls.
The speech reiterated that Manitoba’s education strategy will remain at the heart of its economic strategy and committed the province to expanding the skills base of the economy in order to open new opportunities for the province’s young people and to increase the province’s long-term competitive advantage.
As part of this strategy, the government says it will provide new and increased tax credits for employers who provide apprenticeship places. The speech also committed to establishing training and apprenticeship targets for all major public capital projects with a special focus on Aboriginal training programs.
The speech emphasized that in times of economic unrest, people who are already struggling to make ends meet cannot be forgotten and committed the province to continuing its poverty-reduction strategy with further elements of the four-year, $27-million Rewarding Work Program being introduced next year to help move more Manitobans from welfare to work.
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