Manitoba to spend $150M more than budgeted to help with inflation, health care

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson announced $140 million to support infrastructure projects around the province, but the official opposition says it’s money municipalities should have had sooner.

By Mike Albanese and the Canadian Press

The Manitoba government says it’s spending $150 million more than it forecasted in the previous budget to ease costs in the health-care system, for municipal projects and to offset inflation.

The money is part of an $850-million funding package approved by the Progressive Conservative government through a special warrant.

Part of the money, $200 million announced earlier this week, is going to a second round of cheques to help people deal with inflation.

Eight water and wastewater projects are to receive about $100 million, while $40 million will go toward the expansion of CentrePort, North America’s largest tri-modal inland port.

Mayor Gillingham says final funding agreements for the CentrePort water and wastewater project have been finalized. At a shared cost of 60 million dollars.

“This will allow us to proceed with tendering the detailed design work and finalizing land acquisition with the goal of starting construction at Centerport south next year, and hopefully seeing the development of new buildings very soon after that,” said Mayor Gillingham.

“There’s significant pressure that we face as a city. Indications from the premier today is good news for the City of Winnipeg.”

Gillingham added that the city has been facing its own budget deficits due to inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic and weather events.

RELATED: Manitoba sending second round of cheques to help with inflation

Premier Heather Stefanson has hinted her government may end a freeze on municipal operating funding as part of the spring budget.

“Municipalities and communities across our province are facing inflationary pressures that impact their ability to deliver important projects and services that Manitobans rely and depend on,” said Premier Stefanson.

The Opposition NDP said the funding doesn’t make up for seven years of cuts made to Winnipeg and other communities while the Tories have been in government.

“Since they took office, the Progressive Conservative’s have frozen municipal funding, forcing communities to make cuts to services families rely on and starving them of resources they need to thrive,” Matt Wiebe, critic for municipal affairs, said Friday.

As for the eight rural municipal water and wastewater projects including water treatment plant expansions in Morden, Brandon, Winkler, and water and sewer renewals in Powerview-Pine Falls. Political Scientist Malcolm Bird says infrastructure funding like this from provincial governments is paramount.

“This is a very positive announcement and the provincial government and the municipal governments are to be lauded for it,” said Bird.

“Without water it’s impossible for people to live, work, produce things, move things… all of that important societal and economic activity – this is good news for the people of Manitoba.”

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