What we are looking for at the 2023/24 Manitoba Budget speech

March 7, 2023

March 7, 2023


For Immediate Release (Winnipeg, Treaty One Territory): CCPA Senior Researcher and Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues Niall Harney and CCPA Manitoba director Molly McCracken will be at the Manitoba Legislature Tuesday, March 7 to participate in budget lock-up and watch the budget speech from Finance Minister Cliff Cullen. Here is what we are looking for in the budget:


Manitoba will have significant fiscal capacity to invest in public services and program spending over the 2023/24 budget year. Inflation, a tight labour market and high economic growth has brought a large increase in tax revenues to the provincial treasury. At the same time, record setting precipitation in 2022 increased water rental payments from Manitoba Hydro. According to the mid-year fiscal update, the province can expect an extra $1.1 billion in revenue due to inflation and water rentals. 


Federal government transfers are also set to increase in 2023/24. Equalization payments, health and social transfer payments are all set to increase this year, bringing in an additional $733 million this year. The new federal health care deal announced in February sweetens the pot by $691 billion over 10 years, along with $1.2 billion for bilateral agreements.


Manitoba must invest in public services to repair the damage caused by years of austerity. Significant investments in recruitment and retention are required to draw staff back into public health care, after years of underfunding and understaffing have caused beleaguered healthcare staff to seek opportunities in other provinces or the public sector. This will require financial incentives as well as a clear commitment to end chronic understaffing and use of ‘mandating’. 


We also hope to see funding allocations for contract settlements with other public sector workers. Allied health workers, represented by MAHCP, have been working without a contract since 2017. Contracts with UMFA, the MNU, and CUPE 204, among others, are set to expire next year. A fair and timely resolution to these negotiations is essential to bolster recruitment and retention efforts and improve our public services. 


We expect to see direct household payments to be announced in this budget. The province is slated to increase the education property tax rebate to 50% this year, costing $450 million. To date, the province has spent nearly $1 billion on education property tax rebates but has not put forward a plan to fill the funding gap in public education. Education property tax rebates have disproportionately gone to wealthy property owners and large corporations, increasing inequality in our province. The education property tax rebate cheques should be canceled and funding diverted to much needed improvements in public education. 


Any direct household payments should be targeted to low and middle income households who are squeezed hardest by inflation. Manitoba has the highest child poverty rate among Canadian provinces in 2022. Targeted income support could go a long way to eliminating child poverty. 

At the same time, the Province should look to transform welfare into a Liveable Basic Needs Benefit with portable benefits for those seeking work to reduce poverty in the province and ensure basic necessities. 


We applaud the recently announced provincial homelessness strategy, which includes $58 million for the construction of 700 social housing units. We hope to see the province build on this announcement while also providing support for renters. Rent prices have risen sharply in recent years. Increasing the supply of social and supportive housing is essential to address Manitoba’s housing crisis. 



The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - Manitoba is an independent, charitable research institute. 


Media contact: Niall Harney [email protected]

Molly McCracken [email protected]