The Progressive Conservative Party’s pledge to increase Manitoba’s population to 2 million by 2030 is heavily dependent on its plan to grow the economy, party leader Heather Stefanson said at a Manitoba Chamber of Commerce breakfast September 13.
“We are now the third-fastest growing (economy) in the country,” Stefanson told the business crowd. “I want to get to No. 1 and I know we can.” She noted that Manitoba exports are up 18%, full-time employment growth is highest in Canada and there are more Manitobans working now than ever.
In an address that spoke about the party’s election campaign commitments – reducing pay roll tax by 50% before moving to eliminate it; continuing to phase out the education property tax; reducing the first income tax bracket by half and removing the land transfer tax for first-time homebuyers – Stefanson also noted that infrastructure plays an important role in supporting trade, local business and, thereby, growing the economy.
The government laid out, for example, five-year strategic infrastructure investment plans, including $2.5 billion for highways capital work over five years.
She committed to continuing to push for federal sign-on to the principles of a Canada Trade Infrastructure Plan, which lays out the need for an investment strategy that prioritizes nation-building “shovel worthy” infrastructure projects over the standard “shovel ready” spending programs.
Stefanson led the Premiers’ Council of the Federation, at its meeting in July in Winnipeg, to issue a communique support CTIP’s principles and calling upon the Trudeau government to hold a First Ministers’ meeting on the topic of competitiveness and strategic infrastructure.
She noted the work through her past term on economic development has resulted in hundreds of development projects on the go. If they come to fruition, it would see an 11% increase to Manitoba’s GDP.
However, the focus must remain on competitiveness and retaining young people to live and work here, rather than heading off to other provinces, she stressed.
Stefanson is campaigning to be re-elected premier in the general election to be held October 3.