Manitoba

Manitoba provincial budget to be tabled on April 7

Manitoba's 2021 budget will be released on April 7, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced on Wednesday.

More Manitobans than ever weighed in on their budget priorities this year

Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding says protecting Manitobans from the impacts of COVID-19 will be a focal point of the 2021 budget. (Travis Golby/CBC)

Manitoba's 2021 budget will be released on April 7, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced on Wednesday.

"We truly think that this budget will focus in on protecting Manitobans from the impacts of COVID-19 and really charting a road map for future economic recovery once we're through the pandemic," Fielding told reporters after question period.

In the province's last fiscal update, released in December, the province forecast a deficit of $2.048 billion by the end of March, down from the previously forecast $2.938 billion in September. 

Fielding doesn't anticipate the third term forecast, which is anticipated in the next few weeks, to deviate much from that.

"I think we're probably on track for a $2 billion deficit, but we'll see by year end how the financials end up," he said.

Fielding says the province is also projecting a 4.3 per cent increase in gross domestic product.

Nearly 51,000 Manitobans participated in the province's virtual budget consultation process — an increase of 178 per cent from 2020.

The province held telephone town halls, virtual meetings, an online survey and invited people to submit email and written notes.

Of those that responded to an online survey, 73 per cent said improving health care was their top priority in the budget, and 57 per cent said getting the COVID-19 vaccine to all Manitobans is the highest priority area.

Fielding indicated those things could be addressed when the budget is tabled.

"We want to protect Manitobans from the impacts of COVID-19 and we also want to provide supports for individuals and businesses to make sure they can grow and prosper," he said.

"I think those were two focal points we've had throughout the year, and I wouldn't be surprised if those were focal points of the budget 2021."

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