The Dawson Trail constituency took part in the Manitoba government’s pre-budget consultations on Thursday, Oct. 26 in Ste. Anne. This was the second and final town hall meeting in advance of Budget 2018 in our area. It was my pleasure to host the Honourable Cameron Friesen, Minister of Finance who was with us to make the presentation and take questions.
It was great to see such a good turnout from Dawson Trail stakeholders and public citizens alike. Presentations, questions, and discussion were all extremely valuable and will go a long way to inform our government planning on the topics of the night, which included the legalization of marijuana, healing our health care system, and budget planning for 2018.
What Manitobans overall have told us, is they generally agree we are on the right track. By Oct. 24, close to 37,000 of them had provided input through our consultations and 49 per cent urged us to continue on this path. Our online survey has brought more than 18,000 responses. More than 16,000 people have taken part in the telephone town halls, and hundreds have attended consultation meetings held by our MLAs.
Through the unprecedented participation in the pre-budget consultations this fall, we know we have been able to hear Manitobans. And we’re correct in taking our moderate approach to fixing our province’s finances and working toward fiscal balance.
With this in mind, we will not proceed with a health-care premium at any point in our first term. Through the consultations we launched in September with public meetings, telephone town halls and an online survey, it’s clear Manitobans do not support a health-care premium. They have indicated they want us to make some reallocation decisions to move toward a balanced budget, though our government believes that leaving more money in the hands of Manitobans is positive for our economy and for Manitoba families.
We are committed to further reducing the deficit by at least $100 million per year. This will assist, over time, in moving Manitoba back to sustainability and to a more secure health-care system.
It will take hard work to maintain this progress. We have 17 years of mismanagement to clean up, and have had a little over 17 months to start. We are undertaking this work with enthusiasm and passion, and doing it with Manitobans as our guide.