Have we turned the corner?
The Hon. Scott Fielding, Manitoba’s Minister of Finance spoke to a crowd of well over 100 attendees at a Thursday, February 27 MHCA hosted event in Winnipeg.
In the 20 minute presentation, the minister provided an overview of the massive fiscal challenges inherited from the previous administration and the razor focused attention in its first term on reducing the operating deficit and return to balance – it is ahead of schedule.
The minister referenced a number of positive strengths around Manitoba’s economy, chief among them our diversity, continued growth and ability to attract immigrants. He also spoke to the investments the province has and continues to make in healthcare, education and family services.
It was welcomed the news that the province appears to be raising the profile and importance of core infrastructure as part of its economic growth strategy – the target is 40,000 jobs in its second term. The highways capital program is expected to increase in 2020, further augmented by additional core infrastructure related programming of $45 million, the long-awaited Lake St. Martin flood protection project and accelerated private sector investment. The message seems to be that having almost effectively ‘righted’ the fiscal ship of state, there are now emerging opportunities and growing fiscal flexibility just around the corner to focus on strategic investment in infrastructure and in a manner that harnesses its ROI to GDP benefits.
It is well researched and documented that there is no better area of public sector investment, with no higher rate of return to economic growth, than trade enabling infrastructure, and Manitoba is a trade-reliant economy.
The MHCA appreciates the recent positive discussions with minister Fielding and is hopeful that more investment, not spending, is on the provincial horizon as it relates to Manitoba’s core infrastructure and its transportation system.
So have we turned the corner? We hope so – it can’t happen fast enough.