A ‘good start’: How Wab Kinew’s first budget is landing in Manitoba

The reviews are in, and many organizations across Manitoba are giving the province’s 2024 budget a thumbs up — or at least calling it a good first step.

The inaugural budget for the Manitoba NDP government was released Tuesday, and Finance Minister Adrien Sala and Premier Wab Kinew are receiving some accolades for the ambitious document, with some lingering concerns as well.

Chris Adams, political science professor at the University of Manitoba, told Global Winnipeg that the budget seems poised to help the majority of Manitobans, thanks to a major reworking of education property tax that primarily benefits owners of lower-value homes.

“It’s a budget really more designed for middle class and lower-middle class or working people,” Adams said.

“If you’re someone with $200,000 income or a very large house in Linden Woods, it’s not a good budget, but for most Manitobans, it’s a very good budget.”

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Adams said it’s encouraging to see the majority of promises that Kinew and the NDP made on the campaign trail are addressed in the budget, although it remains to be seen whether the government can follow through on what he called one of the most complex budgets he’s seen in years.

“Health, every year, is a big part of the budget pie, but there are a whole lot of commitments in this budget — like 1,000 health-care workers, including 100 doctors, as promised by Wab Kinew in this budget.

“The question is: can he deliver on that?”

Kam Blight, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, said he was happy to see such a strong focus on health care in the budget.

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“Restoring the rural doctor recruitment fund, investment in additional health-care professionals, and reopening some of these closed emergency rooms … every single Manitoban deserves good quality care close to home,” Blight said.

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“We really feel that the NDP government is going to be taking the necessary strides to try and fix that.”

Blight said the budget is a good start, but he’s concerned with the lack of investment in public safety and combating rural crime, which he said has been an ongoing topic of concern in communities across the province.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president reacts to 2024 budget'

Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president reacts to 2024 budget

Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president Chuck Davidson said while there were some aspects of the budget he would have liked to have seen in greater focus, he’s looking forward to a number of items from a longer-term approach.

“They addressed what their core principles were going to be, but there’s more work to be done if we really want to help the economy,” Davidson said.

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“What we were looking for in the budget was really focused around affordability for businesses — recognizing that from an inflationary perspective … of businesses we’ve talked to, 78 per cent were impacted significantly or moderately by inflation last year, 71 per cent this year.

“What we were looking for, was there going to be something to address some of those needs from a business perspective.

“There wasn’t a whole lot that we could say, ‘This was specifically targeted for business.’ Overall, they did sort of a broad-based approach.”

Click to play video: '‘A significant document’: Health care-heavy Manitoba budget released'

‘A significant document’: Health care-heavy Manitoba budget released

In a release Wednesday, the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) commended the province for addressing a number of topics, including its health-care investments, efforts to eliminate homelessness, and harm-reduction funding — as well as Manitoba’s $20-million commitment to search the Prairie Green Landfill for the remains of three Indigenous women who are believed to be the victims of an alleged serial killer.

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“I want to extend my appreciation to the government of Manitoba for acknowledging our relatives who are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill,” Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said.

“Today’s budget included a funding commitment to help begin the search to bring these women home. In addition, I understand there is also an investment of $20 million to implement a new strategy to respond to the national emergency of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse people.”

Click to play video: 'Four Manitobans react to Manitoba’s 2024 budget'

Four Manitobans react to Manitoba’s 2024 budget

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