Province gives Manitobans new way to shape next budget

The government of Manitoba has created a new interactive website for Manitobans to play finance minister and design their own provincial budgets.

Progressive Conservatives launch new website Your Province Your Plan for 2017 budget consultations

Premier Brian Pallister says Your Province Your Plan gives Manitobans a new way to voice their opinions about the next budget. (CBC)

The government of Manitoba has created a new interactive website for Manitobans that allows citizens to step into the finance minister's shoes and design their own provincial budgets.

A screen grab shows what the new budget consultation website looks like. (CBC)

Your Province Your Plan offers a tool that gives people the ability to play around with revenues and expenditures and attempt to balance Manitoba's books.

"I'm excited about the launch of this website and the exercise but more than that ... I'm really excited to hear what Manitobans have to say," said Premier Brian Pallister.

"Part of this I financial literacy enhancement. Giving people a chance to actually work through some of the challenges."

It also has information about in-person community meetings and ways to submit written statements about the future budget.

The Progressive Conservatives say they will use data gathered from Your Province Your Plan to create the 2017 budget, said Pallister. The province will also release findings to the public but said it will protect user privacy.

Raising taxes a possibility

While Pallister said he does not plan to raise taxes, if the consultation shows the majority of Manitobans support the idea he would "have to" consider it and hold a referendum on the question.

"I'm not prejudging what the consultations will produce," said Pallister. "We're ready to listen to Manitobans and hear what they have to say."

The consultations process will also be used to assess specific projects the previous NDP government promised to fund, said the premier.

The PCs previously said all the spending promises are under review. The only NDP program the government has publicly promised to continue to support is the affordable housing program, Rent Assist.

"It's Manitoba's future, it's Manitoba's plan, and we believe Manitobans should have a say in it."

The previous NDP government started running a string of deficits in 2009, culminating in a $1-billion deficit in the fiscal year that ended in March.

Pallister, who was elected April 19, has promised to reduce the deficit and cut the provincial sales tax by one percentage point.

with files from The Canadian Press


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