The Manitoba government is budgeting nearly $1.2 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year to protect Manitobans through COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemic and economic needs.
“Our government’s top financial priority over the past year has been to direct critical funding to the front lines of our fight against COVID-19,” said Finance Minister Scott Fielding. “Budget 2021 will outline our immediate priority of protecting Manitobans during the pandemic and chart our path forward to advance Manitoba, post-pandemic. We have dedicated funding to address both our short-term and long-term priorities in health care and economic recovery.”
The provincial government will reveal Budget 2021 tomorrow afternoon in the Manitoba legislative chamber. Instead of honouring the Canadian tradition of finance ministers buying themselves a new pair of budget day shoes, this government’s practice since 2016 has been to gift a pair of shoes to a deserving Manitoban. In recognition of the hard work of health workers during the pandemic, the ministers gave a pair of shoes to Chaturika Mesgun, an employee at Cadham Provincial Laboratory.
“We are honoured to have a member of Cadham Provincial Laboratory be chosen to receive this gift. The events of the past year and the resulting increase in workload have been unprecedented for the laboratory and the staff rose to the challenge,” said Denise Sitter, executive director of Cadham Provincial Laboratory. “We are extremely thankful for the dedication, professionalism and countless hours of hard work put in by our laboratory technologists, laboratory technicians and all the support staff here at our facility.”
During the announcement at the provincial lab, the ministers revealed the province has budgeted $1.18 billion in the 2021-22 fiscal year for its anticipated COVID-19 response and contingency funds for future needs.
“Budget 2021 will support the health, education and financial needs of Manitobans and prepare for potential future waves of COVID-19 or other emergencies that arise,” said Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson. “We have budgeted additional amounts for the anticipated costs of protecting Manitobans, such as procuring more personal protective equipment and continuing to deploy the vaccine across the province in the largest immunization campaign in Manitoba history.”
The majority of the funding includes amounts for the health-care system, the full-year cost of the vaccine program, support that may be required for the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system to respond to the pandemic, and additional personal protective equipment and related supplies.
Fielding noted actual costs continue to evolve, but estimated amounts this fiscal year are as follows:
- $230 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and vaccine site infrastructure, contact tracing and other preparations as part of the province’s overall public health response;
- $350 million for additional health-care systems costs in preparation for a potential third COVID-19 wave;
- $160 million to support school and education needs over this and next school year;
- $100 million for the vaccine program; and
- $40 million for Manitoba Restart Program capital initiatives at the municipal level.
The remaining $300 million will be set aside as a contingency for currently unbudgeted expenses, Fielding added.
To date, Manitoba has committed a total of $3.2 billion to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes investments to address and mitigate the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and future-year spending to help recovery.
In addition to the $1.2 billion for COVID-19 response and contingency, Premier Brian Pallister recently announced Budget 2021 will commit a minimum of $50 million in new funding to reduce wait times for priority surgeries delayed by the pandemic, as well as hip, knee and cataract procedures.