Public Services in Manitoba Continue Decline: Report

Municipal Services in Winnipeg Earns Lowest Ranking – Reveals Dangers of
December 14, 2004

Winnipeg -- Manitoba is facing a looming social deficit and public services are being seriously degraded. These are the central conclusions of The State of Public Services in Manitoba 2004 report, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba.

The most serious public service decline is at the municipal level. From street repairs to grass cutting, libraries and swimming pools to transit, services are less available and continually less affordable. In this context, further cuts to municipal taxes are a recipe for disaster. The recently announced sharing of provincial casino revenue does nothing to address this situation.

Manitobans are being relatively well served in health and education. Quality is, at least, holding steady. Accessibility has declined somewhat, signified most clearly by the continuing decline in provincial funding to all levels of schooling and an apparent unwillingness to squarely address skyrocketing drug costs. Social services, however, continue a precipitous slide downward – social assistance levels do not match those of the

Government activity is becoming a smaller and smaller part of the overall economy in Manitoba. Provincial spending, which will increase slightly to about $6.7 billion in 2004, is actually a declining proportion of provincial GDP: from 18.9 percent in 1995/96 to 17.9 percent in 2002/03. The pattern at the City of Winnipeg is similar. Spending compared to the city’s overall economy has dropped by 22 percent between 1992 and 2001 from 6.1 percent to 4.7 percent of GDP.

A major part of the decline in spending on public services is the result of a deliberate set of political values and policy choices, particularly of cutting taxes, the source of revenue for needed and desired public services.

The looming provincial and municipal social deficit is also the result of the federal government ‘s tax cuts and debt repayment. Over the last two decades, the federal government has reduced transfer payments and its share of funding for public services. In so doing, the provinces and municipalities have been forced to pick up more of these costs.

“Tax revenues, which all come from the same people, are amassing at the federal level while the provincial and municipal levels are being severely squeezed,” said Wayne Antony, Acting Director of CCPA-MB.

The report awards a letter grade to public services in four sectors – health, education, social services and municipal services – on the basis of a number of criteria.

The report is now available online at

For more information, contact Wayne Antony at 927-3200.

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