Manitoba projects modest reduction in pool of year-end red ink

Belt-tightening efforts at the Province of Manitoba have yielded a modest improvement, according to the latest figures released by Manitoba Finance.

No change projected in core government deficit; $13M improvement when schools, Crowns, hospitals included

Cameron Friesen's Finance Department is projecting no change to a core government deficit of $779 million for 2017-18, but says the summary budget deficit will by $827 million, down from an earlier projection of $840 million. (CBC)

Belt-tightening efforts at the Province of Manitoba have yielded a modest improvement, according to the latest figures released by Manitoba's Finance Department.

The province's second-quarter financial report reveals no change in a provincial projection of a $779-million deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year for core government operations.

The core-government deficit for 2016-17 was $764 million. Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said Manitobans should not be concerned with the higher projected deficit for 2017-18.

"This is the halfway point of the year. This is not the year end. So that means we have two more quarters. There's a lot of variability in a reporting entity that is $15 billion," Friesen told reporters Wednesday outside his office.

"We've got lots of things to keep our eye on, but clearly we've got more work to do if we're to get this deficit going down."

The same second-quarter report also projects a $13-million improvement in the projected summary budget deficit, which includes Crown corporations, schools and health authorities. That deficit is now projected to be $827 million, down from a budget-day projection of $840 million.

The report reveals a drop in income-tax revenue, something Friesen attributed to a change in federal taxation policy that led to an unexpected rise in income-tax revenue last year.

It also reveals a drop in expected provincial payouts for crop insurance, which Friesen said was a result of a very good 2017 growing season for Manitoba farmers.