Government finance

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First published in the Winnipeg Free Press Friday July 14th, 2017  
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are a relatively new way of financing social services in Canada. They differ from the normal way of financing social services in that they are funded initially by pri­vate sector businesses or foundations, which are reimbursed by governments after 3 to 7 years only if certain agreed upon performance measures are met.
Despite pundits’ claims that “its not as bad as it could be” there are a myriad of program cuts and tax cuts in this budget. As the weeks go by more impacts will invariably be felt in our community. Yet poverty and social inequality continue to grow and the climate crisis looms.  Every year without investment in these critical areas is huge loss to all Manitobans.  
Changes to Manitoba’s Health Care system are coming fast and furious. This will invariably impact key services we all rely on and limit access to needed services.
The government was well aware that many were dreading Budget 2017.  Non-profit organizations, healthcare workers, educators and public sector workers in general were bracing for Filmon flashbacks. Did the Conservative team take those fears into consideration when putting together the budget?
On April 11, the Progressive Conservative government led by Brian Pallister released its second budget under their mandate. While the government is calling it moderate, post-secondary students are calling it an attack on accessible, affordable and high quality public post-secondary education. With student debt closing in on $20,000, the ability for students to pay down their debt just got harder with the release of the 2017 Manitoba budget. Let’s talk about why.
Disappointingly, specifics were lacking from the provincial budget on fight against climate change. In what was arguably the first real budget to be presented by Brian Pallister’s Progressive Conservative government, they had precious little to say about how they intend to protect the environment and move our province away from the use of fossil fuels.
Low income Manitobans were hoping that this year’s budget would offer a plan to help lift them out of poverty. A well-funded strategy with targets and timelines for its implementation and for reducing poverty would give Manitobans confidence that their government is making poverty reduction a top priority. However, despite promising last year that a comprehensive poverty reduction plan would be introduced in Budget 2017, the government has pushed the updated strategy back to the end of the year.
Budget 2017 provides $150M less for the development and maintenance of social and affordable housing compared to last year’s budget. Groups like the Right to Housing Coalition are concerned that this will increase homelessness and perpetuate the poverty experienced by the thousands of Manitobans who cannot get ahead and enjoy a decent quality of life because they cannot access safe and affordable housing.
Manitoba budget and speech 2017 reflects regression, misses link between protecting environment and lowering health care costs

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