Manitoba minister slams 2014 federal budget

Manitoba’s Minister of Jobs and the Economy slammed the Tories’ latest budget on Tuesday, saying the 2014 numbers don’t provide any new cash for Manitobans.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Youth Employment Service among those happy with budget

Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty and Prime Ministers Stephen Harper enter the House of Commons on budget day on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Manitoba’s Minister of Jobs and the Economy slammed the Tories’ latest budget on Tuesday, saying the 2014 numbers don’t provide any new cash for Manitobans. 

“We can confirm once again that transfers to Manitoba remain flat. That’s five years in a row. That’s money for health, education and social services on which we’ll see no increase whatsoever despite the fact we have a growing population,” said Minister Theresa Oswald. “That’s extremely concerning to me of course.”

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty released the 2014 budget on Tuesday, indicating the deficit has shrunk to $2.9 billion, which is within the $3 billion contingency Flaherty built in in case of major blows to Canada’s economy.

In addition, the federal Finance Department upgraded its projected surplus for next year to $6.4 billion rather than $3.7 billion.

And Oswald isn't the only one unhappy with the budget. Niki Ashton is the NDP MP for Churchill and is furious over the $40 million announced for disaster prevention on First Nations.

Ashton said the funding isn’t slated to start until 2015, and the details of the program are scant.

“There’s no question — it’s a do-nothing, wait-and-see budget,” she said. “The minister himself said that there wouldn’t be much to [the budget] and that’s one promise he definitely held up.”

Meanwhile, the Manitoba division of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is lauding the budget.

Colin Craig said edging closer to a surplus is a step in the right direction for Canada.

“That’s good for families across Canada because once the budget is balanced, and we return to surplus, there is going to be some tax cuts coming,” said Craig.

The latest budget announces about $700 million in new spending, with $2 billion in cuts.

Much of the savings for 2014 come from pushing back defence procurement plans and cutting spending on health coverage for retired public servants.

But one place cash is going is toward combating youth unemployment.

Flaherty announced cash for interest-free loans for apprenticeships and training in certain trades.

The budget promised a Canada Apprentice Loan to provide interest-free loans to apprentices registered in certain trades, as well as $40 million for up to 3,000 internships in high-demand fields over the next two years.

That’s welcome news for Karen Velthuys, the executive director of Manitoba’s Youth Employment Service.

“We need to grow our apprentices in Manitoba. We know we have some trades that are lacking in terms of the amount of people we have going into the trade,” she said. “This will give us an opportunity to expand those areas.”