Manitoba's Public Services

Recovering, But Still Fragile
May 28, 2003

Winnipeg - The state of Manitoba's public services has improved slightly since they were gutted in the mid-1990s. But the recovery has been uneven, and it is threatened by the prospect of additional provincial income tax cuts. Those are the key findings of "Fragile Recovery: The State of Public Services in Manitoba," a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba.

The report examines four sectors of public services in Manitoba: Health; Education; Social Services, and Municipal Services in Winnipeg. It takes into account major funding and policy developments, and awards a letter grade to each sector.

The report found that, over much of the past decade, quality suffered in all four sectors, and the accessibility of services was reduced, in part through increases in user fees. Some sectors, such as Education, are recovering well. But others, such as municipal services in Winnipeg, have continued their steady decline, and are now alarmingly weak.

"In the 1990s, the provincial government cut program spending to eliminate the deficit. But while the fiscal deficit was eliminated, the result was a public services deficit," said Todd Scarth, Director of CCPA-MB. "The tax cuts promised by all three parties in this election have nothing to do with getting the provinces fiscal house in order - and will make it much more difficult, if not impossible, to rebuild the services that were damaged in the '90. Taxes are the way we pay for public services."