The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives are promising to take a modest bite into the provincial deficit in their first year, if they win the election.
Leader Brian Pallister says his party would find $138 million dollars in savings their first year in government.
Offset by roughly $117 million in promises made during the campaign, the Tories say it would come out to about $22 million dollars coming off the deficit, in year one.
Estimates from the NDP in their last fiscal update before the election put the total deficit at more than $700 million dollars.
Pallister says his government would take a slow and steady approach.
“I’m presenting a balanced, logical plan that will turn the ship, not immediately. That’s risky. I don’t want to put people out of work,” he says.
Pallister was alluding to NDP accusations he’s planning deep cuts on front line services.
He does say he’d find $50 million dollars in saving by review of all government departments, in his first year as Premier. Pallister says he can also save $35 million through what he calls “smart shopping.”
Pallister is also planning to cut the size of provincial cabinet by 1/3. That would include getting rid of civil service positions.
The PCs biggest promise is to bring the provincial sales tax down to seven per cent, within their first term. The cost of that is not included in their platform. Pallister says its because it wouldn’t be done until later in the mandate and the platform only breaks down costs for the first year.
He says he can’t make a specific promise on when he’ll balance the budget either.
“Not without jeopardizing my word, breaking my word to Manitobans. We need to see how deep the hole is.”
Polls show Pallister and his party way ahead as we move towards election day on April 19th but he denied he’s been running a “low risk” campaign.
“What we’re doing is we’re showing where we’ll save money and where we’ll re-invest it. We’re the only party that’s doing that,” he says. “The NDP, on the other hand, is promising to run an old fashioned pork belly campaign.”
The Tories would change provincial income tax brackets, to index them by inflation. That would cost $17 million dollars. They’re also promising $50 million for new infrastructure and would invest $20 million on new beds for personal care homes.
You can see the full platform below.