Make job creation a priority, says finance expert
Province's job growth slowed in past 12 months
A Manitoba finance professor says he wants jobs to be a top issue in the province's election campaign, in light of figures that show job creation numbers appear to be slowing down.
Manitoba's economy gained a net of 600 new jobs in the 12-month period ending in August 2011. That's a far cry from the 9,300 new jobs from the same period the previous year, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.
"We should be aiming for a job growth rate of certainly one to two per cent a year. In the last year we're up, I think it's 0.1 per cent," John McCallum, a professor of finance at the University of Manitoba, told CBC News.
The weak growth will make it difficult for the winner of next month's provincial election to pay down the deficit and provide other services, especially with economists around the world predicting another recession, McCallum said.
With many jobs in Manitoba created by government, McCallum said a recession — the second in three years, if it happens — could mean the money needed to create those jobs may start to run out.
"I would say the biggest issue Manitoba has going forward is growing this economy and growing jobs, because that's where you get the money to do the things that governments would like to do," he said Wednesday.
Various solutions pledged
The provincial government needs to cut taxes and create a climate where the private sector can add jobs, he added.
The New Democratic Party, which is seeking another mandate in the Oct. 4 election, says it wants to invest money in training, as well as extend the tax exemption for small businesses.
"We committed this weekend to take that to $500,000. We've lowered corporate income taxes, we've eliminated the capital tax," said NDP Leader Greg Selinger.
If elected, Progressive Conservatives say they want Manitoba to join the New West Partnership, an economic development deal between British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
PC Leader Hugh McFadyen said he wants to keep taxes where they are, with a few exceptions.
"Providing some targeted tax relief, including credits against the payroll tax. We've talked about the home renovation tax credit," McFadyen said.
The Manitoba Liberals say they would encourage job creation by investing in post-secondary education and research.
On Tuesday, Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard said his party, if elected, would provide cash credits for children who do well in grade school, as well as offer rebates for university students with good grades.
Leaders on campaign trail
On the campaign trail Wednesday, Selinger promised to hire 200 more doctors and 50 more physician assistants over the next four years if his party is re-elected.
That plan would cost $77.3 million a year, according to the NDP, which has promised to ensure every Manitoban has a family doctor by 2015.
Gerrard pledged to put up $44 million a year to extend a rapid-transit line that is being built south of downtown Winnipeg.
The Liberal leader said he would push the transit line all the way to the University of Manitoba.
However, the final decision would rest with Winnipeg City Hall, which has been debating the size and scope of its rapid transit system for years.
McFadyen kept a low profile on Wednesday, spending the day door-knocking with some of his Winnipeg-area candidates.
Gerrard, McFadyen and Selinger discussed Manitoba's economy, among other issues, at a leaders' forum in Winnipeg on Wednesday evening.
With files from The Canadian Press