The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba has accused Greg Selinger and the NDP of padding its numbers to hide an estimated $180 million gap in its fiscal plan.
“The federal budget has exposed Greg Selinger’s deliberate attempt to pad the numbers by claiming massive increases in federal infrastructure money that doesn’t exist,” said PC Finance Critic Cameron Friesen, CTV Winnipeg reports.
Friesen, the PC candidate for Morden-Winkler, called the NDP’s financial plan a “fantasy fiscal update” as it accounts for $316 million in federal money in 2016-17—far greater than the $52 million Manitoba received in 2015-16, according to the Winnipeg Sun. But the recently released federal budget reportedly dedicates closer to $135 million to Manitoba, leaving a shortage of roughly $181 million in expected funding, Friesen claims:
“The kind of infrastructure investment that’s going to be given to Manitoba in no way matches what the NDP was saying they were going to get. It’s a six-fold increase without any basis in fact.”
How does the NDP expect to close the potential budgetary gap? Friesen alleges that an NDP government would increase taxation.
“The implication is clear: Taxes for Manitobans are going to go up again,” Friesen said (per the Winnipeg Sun). “This is a $181-million shortfall in just the next operating year. And there’s only one way to close that gap and that is higher taxation.”
Firing back, Government of Manitoba spokesperson Andrew Tod told CTV Winnipeg: “Based on the federal budget and its commitment to the Building Canada Fund, the Lake Manitoba/Lake St. Martin channels, and Freedom Road, we stand by the numbers estimated by provincial finance officials in the government’s recent Economic and Fiscal Outlook.”
Tod added: “For Manitoba we know that we have $202 million remaining in building Canada funding to be allocated to Manitoba’s priorities like highway upgrades.”
Liberal leader Rana Bokhari announced her party's plans to pay for $143 million in promises made during the election campaign so far on Monday.
A Liberal government would run deficits for longer, avoid tax increases, and cap government spending on health care and social services—they would not balance the budget until 2022 at the earliest.
"If we want to get ourselves out of the (Premier Greg) Selinger mess, that means we have to hold spending on everything," Bokhari said, according to the Canadian Press.