Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review


Academic journal article Canadian Parliamentary Review


Article excerpt


The First session of the 40th Legislature resumed on April 17, 2012, with the delivery of the budget from Finance Minister Stan Struthers.

The 2012-2013 total operating expenditure of $11.8 billion represents an increase of 4.3% from 2011-2012. Highlights of the government's budget included:

* Increasing the number of apprenticeships and creating more rural and northern training;

* Providing strong, predictable funding to universities and additional funding for colleges;

* Creating an Energy Opportunities office and fund to help Manitoba businesses take advantage of Manitoba Hydro's growth;

* Loosening restrictions on Sunday shopping by working with business and labour to keep Manitoba businesses strong and competitive;

* Rebuilding flood-damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure;

* Making investments to improve flood mitigation and protection to prevent future damage and hardship for families;

* Building and renewing thousands of kilometres of roads, and many bridges and overpasses;

* Providing faster cancer testing and treatment, and providing free cancer drugs for all patients;

* Taking steps forward to ensure every Manitoba can access a family doctor by 2015;

* Ensuring Manitoba families will pay the lowest combined bills in Canada for electricity, home heating and auto insurance;

* Reducing income taxes for families by delivering on a commitment to increase the basic personal exemption by $250 this year and increasing the seniors' maximum property tax credit by $75 to $1,025;

* Starting to reduce class sizes to 20 students in kindergarten to Grade 3 and providing children with stronger programming to improve reading and math skills; and

* Increasing the minimum wage by 25 cents on October 1.

During his contribution to the budget debate on April 18, 2012 Official Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen moved a motion expressing non-confidence in the government, which stated that the budget failed to address the priorities of Manitobans by:

* Imposing $184 million in new taxes on hard pressed Manitoba families, who are also facing higher hydro rates and property taxes, increased child care fees and a range of other hidden taxes;

* Driving gas prices higher at a time when gas prices in Manitoba have already increased 12% so far this year;

* Failing to take action to build safe communities as Manitoba has become the violent crime capital of Canada with Winnipeg's murder rate reaching an all time high in 2011;

* Failing to take action to protect Manitobans from future floods and failing to adequately compensate families for past damages;

* Failing Manitoba students who scored among the lowest in Canada on national and international reading, math and science tests;

* Creating an even bigger sinkhole of debt, now at $27.6 billion and rising, which as a result will force Manitoba families to pay higher taxes in the years ahead; and

* Failing to offer a plan to encourage private investment to create opportunity and wealth.

On May 1, 2012, Mr. McFadyen's amendment was defeated on a recorded vote of yeas 20, nays 33, while the main budget motion carried on a recorded vote of yeas 33, nays 20.

A total of 44 Government and Private Members' bills received Royal Assent during this session, including the following:

* Bill 6--The Regional Health Authorities Amendment Act (Improved Fiscal Responsibility and Community Involvement) this Bill gives the government the authority to amalgamate regional health authorities (RHAs) whether or not it has received a request to amalgamate from the affected authorities and to set a policy to standardize the employment contracts for senior managers of RHAs. With new regulation-making powers it also allows the government to establish rules respecting the way in which RHAs and health facilities use budgetary surpluses and revenue they receive from providing ancillary services, such as parking. …

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