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Manitoba’s 2014 Budget and the U of M

March 6, 2014 — 

Minister of Finance, Jennifer Howard, tabled her first provincial budget in this Third session of the 40th Legislature. The government says  it offers a balanced plan to create good jobs and more opportunities for people to build their futures in Manitoba. The provincial government previously signaled its commitment to job creation and supporting infrastructure in the Speech from the Throne delivered on November 12, 2013. The majority of the measures in this Budget are to support the jobs and economy agenda and fiscal prudence.

 

Highlights and areas of interest to the University of Manitoba

Creating jobs and opportunities for young people

  • Minister Howard stated that, “strong and vibrant universities and colleges help make Manitoba an attractive place for young people”.
  • A recommitment to increase operating grants by 2.5% for universities and 2% for colleges.
  • New legislation will merge the Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE) into the Department of Education and Advanced Learning.
  • Funding for MSBI and Manitoba Graduate Scholarships remain the same.
  • Universities and colleges, in partnership with the private sector play a key role in driving innovation. A new innovation strategy will be forthcoming and starting with Budget 2014, the provincial government will establish Research Manitoba to target funding to strategic priorities under the guidance of researchers and entrepreneurs. This is not new funding though and GCE confirmed with Finance staff that this combines the funding for the Manitoba Health Research Council, the Manitoba Research Innovation Fund, and the Centres of Excellence.
  • Commitment to work with the grain sector to develop a globally recognized Grain Innovation Hub that will focus on cutting-edge research and development, commercialization and job creation.
  • PSE partners will be brought together to coordinate efforts on intellectual property; access to venture capital will be enhanced by the Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit; and a new Young Entrepreneurs Technology Grants program will be established to help support young Manitobans’ innovative business ideas.
  • Expand opportunities for students to earn university or college credits while still in high school.
  • Support for young people for obtain summer employment.
  • $1M investment to make sure K-12 students have fundamental reading, writing and math skills needed to succeed
  • The Premier will lead a delegation of Aboriginal, business, and postsecondary leaders to meet with First Nations students to find out how all can work together to ensure full participation of First Nations in our economy and to improve graduation rates from high school.

Growing our Workforce

  • Launching Manitoba Works! – a new program with community agencies to provide essential skills training and work experience to people who face barriers to obtaining a good job.
  • This year, the Province will begin on an additional 1,000 social and affordable housing units over the next three years.
  • In regards to childcare spaces, in the coming weeks a multi-year plan that will build and expand more childcare centres, create thousands of new spaces and provide higher wages and additional training for more childcare professionals will be announced.
  • Establish a first-in-Manitoba postsecondary program for persons with intellectual disabilities at Red River College.

Building a Stronger Manitoba

  • The $5.5 billion infrastructure plan will create almost 58,900 jobs and give the provincial economy a $6.3 billion boost. This plan will improve highway systems, provide further flood protection, upgrade roads and bridges and better connect our communities and strengthen major trade corridors.
  • This Budget renews the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund which is a partnership between the Province and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. This Fund has created almost 500 jobs and leveraged more than $55 million in investment to date.

Investing in Front-line Services

  • Health care will be improved for Manitobans through the hiring of more doctors and nurse practitioners and the opening of new Quick Care and ACCESS clinics in Winnipeg and clinics in rural Manitoba.
  • A new postsecondary Advanced Care Paramedic program will be launched.

Making Life Better for Manitoban Families

  • Manitoba has an affordable standard of living for its families and the provincial government is committed to ensuring that Manitobans continue to enjoy this with lower than average taxes and household costs.
  • Budget 2014 will mark the first year of the government’s plan to eliminate school taxes for seniors by 2016. Seniors will be able to apply for a school tax rebate of up to $235 this year.
  • Basic income tax exemption is increasing by another $250.

A Balanced and Innovative Approach to Government

  • The Province claims that it is facing additional economic pressures from the unexpected loss of $100 million in federal transfers due to the contested downward adjustment to Manitoba’s population estimates.
  • The Province has paid down a half billion dollars in debt and states it is on track to return to balance in 2016.
  • There will be a continued effort to find efficiencies in the provincial government.
  • Mr. Rob Despins, Standard Aero, will lead a new Lean Council to provide advice on how to deliver excellent public services for the best value.

 

Highlights from this Budget include:

  • The continued commitment to provide universities with a 2.5% increase to its operating grants;
  • The confirmation that the one percent hike to the provincial sales tax will be devoted to fixing roads and repairing critical infrastructure. On March 5, Ministers Ashton and Oswald announced a $5.5 billion, five-year plan to build core infrastructure which would result in 58,900 jobs.
  • $5.5 million for creating child care spaces and increasing salaries of child care workers. This was also a move to create jobs and keep Manitobans working in Manitoba.
  • A freeze or reduction to the budgets of nine government departments (2.0% increase for Education and Advanced Education and Jobs and the Economy). Overall departmental spending across government is up 2.0%.
  • Extending corporate spending caps to all RHAs, limiting core government spending growth to 2% and capping administrative spending by school divisions.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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