Manitoba’s Finance minister Scott Fielding presented the provincial budget for 2019-20 in the legislature on Thursday afternoon March 7, 2019.
As part of the budget, the minister stated that the retail sales tax (RST) will be reduced to 7% effective July 1, 2019. Currently, the RST is set at 8% and was raised to that level in a controversial move by the NDP government in 2013. The 1% reduction will also reduce the province’s revenues by approximately $325 million in the first 12 months.
“Budget 2019 reduces the retail sales tax, continues to reduce the summary deficit, invests in addictions services and focuses on the needs of Manitoba families,” said Fielding.
The province will be investing $1 million in new funding to respond to the challenges of addictions by expanding the number of withdrawal management beds in Winnipeg and Brandon. $2.3 million will be spent to target drug-related criminal activity.
Ambulance fees have been lowered to a maximum of $250 and 35 more primary care paramedics will be hired with $3.8 million in committed funding.
Primary and secondary schools will see $ 6.6 million in funding increases as well as $56 million devoted to capital funding to support structural repairs, roof replacements, new mechanical systems as well as facilities for special needs students and accessibility projects.
The province will also be replacing 65 ambulances across Manitoba in an effort to modernize the fleet.
Community Living and Disability Services will see a $13.6 million increase their funding to $439.5 million.
$759,000 had been set aside for operating funding for community-based day care projects.
The province will also be funding 27 additional RCMP officer and 2 other staffing positions.
Manitoba’s film and video industry gets a boost to the Manitoba Film and Video Production Tax Credit of $15.5 million
Fly-in communities at St. Theresa Point, Norway House and Shamattawa will see major funding to improve their airports.
The province expects the summary deficit to drop by the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year to $360 million.