Credit agency issues warning about Manitoba government's fiscal outlook
DBRS report cites NDP government's delays in balancing the books
Manitoba's opposition Tories are raising alarm over a credit agency's report that warns of the government's "weak fiscal discipline," but the province's finance minister says its financial plan is working.
The latest report from DBRS Limited does not lower the province's credit rating but warns that "despite a sound economic outlook, Manitoba's fiscal outlook continues to disappoint with efforts to restore fiscal balance now further delayed."
Following several delays in balancing the books, the NDP government most recently promised to do so by 2018.
The DBRS report, issued on Monday, set the province's issuer rating and long-term debt ratings at A (high), along with a short-term rating of R-1 (middle), all with stable trends.
"Weak fiscal discipline has led to further delays in the province's anticipated fiscal recovery timeline, with a return to balance not foreseen until 2018-19 for core government operations," a summary of the report states in part.
"Despite fiscal challenges, debt remains manageable for the current ratings and a well-diversified and resilient economy should keep Manitoba somewhat insulated from the economic challenges facing some of its more resource-dependent neighbours," it added.
However, Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said the government may have to pay higher borrowing costs if the NDP doesn't start getting costs under control.
"It's not good news. Listen. Learn from it. Act on it. Don't risk a further downgrade," Pallister told reporters on Wednesday.
Another credit agency, Moody's Investors Service, downgraded Manitoba's long-term rating last month, citing a fast-growing debt load and a failure to meet balanced-budget targets.
- Manitoba's credit rating downgraded due to growing debt
- Manitoba government's debt rising faster than predicted
- Winnipeg's credit rating downgraded, following Manitoba's rating drop
It was Moody's first downgrade for Manitoba in more than two decades.
Pallister accused the NDP of refusing to cut waste, resulting in needless borrowing.
But Finance Minister Greg Dewar said the province will not have to pay higher borrowing costs on its deficits.
"We have a plan. Our plan is to grow the economy and our plan is working," he said.
"These agencies, they look at the bottom line. We understand that, but our job is to look at the bottom line for what's important to Manitobans, and we'll continue to do that."