NDP blaming flood for near billion dollar deficit 0
Finance Minister Stan Struthers. (WINNIPEG SUN FILES)
At just shy of $1 billion, Manitoba recorded its largest deficit ever over the past fiscal year.
The $999-million deficit is $121 million lower than the government's most recent prediction. But it's more than double the original $438 million loss it originally predicted in Budget 2011.
Reg Helwer, the provincial Progressive Conservative's acting finance critic, said the deficit is inexcusable.
"The numbers are bad. A $1-billion deficit added to Manitoba's debt is unforgivable to Manitobans," said Helwer.
The Manitoba Finance Ministry much of the loss on the hundreds of millions of dollars in damages caused by flooding in 2011.
Minister Stan Struthers said total flood costs are pegged at $975 million, of which the federal government is expected to cover $470 million. But to date, the province has only received about one-third of that commitment, said Struthers.
"So the bulk of the deficit is taken up with the flood," said Struthers. "There are some pressures from departments like Family Services and Justice that are drivers on our budget as well."
The province's overall spending added up to $14.8 billion, which was $995 million over budget.
Struthers also placed blame on the global economic downturn. In spite of that, he said the NDP is committed to maintaining spending in critical areas.
"We're not going to sacrifice health care, education and services for kids. That's what Manitobans' priorities are," he said.
The province will resume its next legislative session with a throne speech on Nov. 19 and pledges the session will include ideas to deal with the "sluggish world economy."
But the Tories say the reasons the NDP provides for its deficit don't excuse the problem.
"They like to blame everybody else for their problems but themselves," said Helwer.