MHCA acknowledges it is located on Treaty One land and the homeland of the Metis Nation

Finance Minister says province is listening to industry, doing more for infrastructure

 

Finance Minister Scott Fielding

Finance Minister Scott Fielding said the recently announced $45-million fund for roads projects to commemorate Manitoba’s 150th birthday is in response to appeals for greater investment in core infrastructure.

Fielding was speaking to a sizeable crowd at the fourth and final Breakfast with the Leaders event MHCA hosted and co-sponsored with five other business organizations Thursday.

The Finance minister noted that the provincial core infrastructure investment deficit is not the only of its kind, that Manitoba is also dealing with investment deficits for health facilities and schools, while wrestling down a huge operating deficit.

Fielding said his government has “over-delivered” on its 2016 election promises, including reducing the provincial deficit faster than expected while continuing to increase health and education budgets. Health care wait times have been cut, as have the number of children in care.

On highways investment, the minister noted that the $350 million budgeted for highways capital this year is being augmented by $45 million for the Manitoba 150 commemorative roads projects, a direct outcome of discussions with the industry on their concerns about investment levels.

Touching upon provincial-city relations, Fielding said that he thought a lot of the discussion that’s hit social media about funding disputes this year have not been productive. He stressed the provincial government has increased capital funding to the city by 30% and “we do want to work with the City.”

In response to questions from the floor specifically about the $9 billion investment deficit for provincial highways and bridges, Fielding said the government is reviewing and improving the process by which investment decisions are made.

“We want to make sure there’s a return on our investment. We’re making sure (of) the asset management. We’re focused in on the areas, we not just throwing money away for political reasons. We want to make sure it’s done in a more efficient, effective way.”

The minister reviewed the province’s broad economic performance numbers, noting that private capital investment – primarily out of the food-processing sector and manufacturing – has risen.

The breakfast was sponsored by MHCA, Manitoba Home Builders’ Association, Winnipeg Construction Association, Merit Contractors Association and Manitoba Trucking Association and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.