'Austerity does not work,' Manitoba Liberals say, as party vows to pay off spending hike with economic growth
Liberals commit $1.4 billion in spending in first year to repair services left neglected by other governments
The Manitoba Liberals are promising to spend their way out of a recession, leader Dougald Lamont announced on Sunday.
Two days before the election, Lamont released his party's costed platform, which pledges $1.4 billion in new annual spending in the first year alone to repair services neglected by previous governments.
His platform assumes economic growth would be stagnant at just 0.5 per cent for each of the next five years if the Progressive Conservatives remain in power.
"I am saying the Tories would put us in a recession," Lamont said.
Austerity doesn't work: Lamont
The Liberal leader suggests new initiatives under his leadership, such as increased spending in health care, road work and child care, would push the economy's growth rate higher than 1.5 per cent a year.
He said his party would be able to balance the budget in three years by also taking an increasing portion of the escalating federal carbon tax to pay off the new initiatives. Lamont estimates the revenues from the carbon tax would start at $286 million in 2020-21.
"I don't just oppose austerity and cuts because of ideology," Lamont said. "I oppose them because all of the evidence is that austerity does not work."
The platform references the Liberal's priority areas, such as higher infrastructure spending, increasing the minimum wage, improving access to health care and addressing climate change.
The Liberals expect to spend $1.084 billion higher than current spending on infrastructure, a minimum income for Manitobans and new capital for businesses and entrepreneurs.
The party estimates the infrastructure spending of $600 million above current levels would have a 129 per cent return on investment to the province's GDP.
The Liberals also plan to invest about $20.8 million to fight the ongoing meth crisis. It pegs the cost of an addictions hotline at $2.5 million the first year, $9.2 million to reinstate the special drugs program and $45 million to build more seniors' housing units.
Addressing climate change
The Liberals plan to spend $20 million per year to address climate change and make Manitoba carbon neutral by 2030. In the next fiscal year, the party vows $10 million in 2020-21 to upgrade sewage treatment facilities in Winnipeg and a commitment to restore the 50-50 funding agreement with transit systems.
The party would spend nearly $13 million annually to fight the use of meth by establishing drug stabilization units and more housing.
On enforcement, a Liberal government would set aside $15 million for a new provincial-wide police service complementing the work of the RCMP and municipal law enforcement.
Kirkfield Park PC candidate Scott Fielding isn't impressed with the Liberals' offering.
"It's clear Dougald Lamont and the Liberals want to take Manitoba backwards down the same old path as the NDP, an unaffordable path to higher taxes and higher debt. Manitobans don't want a rising, sky-high carbon tax under the NDP or Liberals."
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With files from The Canadian Press