The 2016 election campaign is now underway in Manitoba.
NDP Leader Greg Selinger officially asked Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon to call the 2016 provincial election Wednesday morning.
Selinger and members of his cabinet left a cabinet meeting at the legislative building and walked to Filmon's office about 11:30 a.m. He then spoke publicly about the upcoming election on the lawn of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
He reiterated previous commitments to child care, employment and infrastructure spending, and said the differences between the parties were "stark."
"Manitobans have clear choices in front of them," he said.
He said the province's Progressive Conservative party had policies of "restraint, policies of cutting back," while the Liberals' policies "do not make sense. They cannot add up."
"You cannot get rid of hundreds of millions on the health and education levy and still have the money you need to provide daycare, to still have the money you need to provide education and jobs and look after people in the health-care system," Selinger said.
NDP in power since 1999
The NDP have held power since 1999, and Selinger was quick to bring up decisions made prior to their leadership.
"When we look a little deeper into what the [Progressive] Conservatives are offering, they say they want to do a private sector review of all government programs," Selinger said. "I know we're not supposed to go back to the '90s, but there is kind of a Connie Curran flavour to that … which is when we lost thousands, hundreds of nurses in our health-care system."
Curran was a consultant hired by the Gary Filmon PCs in the '90s to look for efficiencies in the health care system.
Selinger acknowledged the NDP had "been around for a while," and said that has helped them learn from experience and improve on the work they started.
"One thing I know about being in government is, if it's going to go wrong, it has gone wrong and then you know how to do it better," he said.
Selinger was asked about his controversial decision to raise the PST to eight per cent.
"It was a difficult choice we had to make because we knew the economy had not recovered as quickly as necessary," he said, adding investing in flood mitigation infrastructure at the time was a priority. "We hope they will understand we haven't always got it right in how we initiated those initiatives, but we are showing results and demonstrating those results."
Selinger said polls can change on a day-to-day basis, and "The reality is, people sit back and they take a look at what the best alternatives are and evaluate those on a day-to-day basis."
Liberals talk education, PCs talk taxes
The NDP scheduled another rally with Selinger at the Sturgeon Heights Community Centre for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, while PC Leader Brian Pallister scheduled announcements in Winnipeg at 10 a.m., Brandon at 2:30 p.m. and Portage la Prairie at 5:30 p.m.
At Pallister's 10 a.m. announcement, he promised to roll back the PST to seven per cent in his first term, if elected.
Shortly after Selinger spoke, Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari pledged full-day kindergarten for Manitoba schools, expanding a pilot program currently underway at schools across the province.
Also Wednesday morning, the Green Party of Manitoba made a campaign promise to establish a guaranteed income plan to reduce poverty and the need for welfare.
Candidates will have until March 29 to file their nomination papers with Elections Manitoba.
Manitoba's last general election was held Oct. 4, 2011, when 55.8 per cent of Manitobans cast ballots.
For CBC's full coverage of the provincial election, see Manitoba Votes 2016.