Author: Michael Holden
As a think tank dedicated to improving the long-term prosperity of western Canada, the Canada West Foundation is paying close attention to the signals being sent by the region’s provincial governments and the federal government in their 2013/14 budgets.
On April 11, the Foundation laid out four areas we hoped to see in Manitoba’s budget in our budget preview.
The 2013/14 Budget Analysis assesses the degree to which progress is being made in these areas and presents five key findings:
- This budget reflects an effort to reduce the deficit while maintaining priority spending. However, it does not advance a strategic long-term vision needed for Manitoba to secure a prosperous future.
- Measures to increase education, skills and workforce participation could be meaningful if pursued aggressively and if protracted federal-provincial negotiations on skills training programs can be avoided.
- Despite tax increases, the province will remain in the red. As a result, the government will have to work hard to find ways to support strategic economic initiatives in the coming year.
- The budget produced mixed results on business tax competitiveness. Increasing the small business tax threshold is a positive step, but raising capital taxes on financial institutions is not.
- The government highlighted the need to find opportunities to reduce the cost of government and increase efficiency. Steps to review existing funding and streamline internal operations to lower costs are critical to achieve that goal.