The Manitoba government released its second quarter report for the 2018-19 fiscal year, indicating continued progress toward achieving balanced budgets based on summary financial results, Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced today.
“We’re fixing the finances, we’re moving in the right direction and making steady progress on deficit reduction,” said Fielding.
Fielding noted the results affirm fiscal discipline and accountability to Manitoba taxpayers. With careful management and steady execution of our promises, the government is currently forecasting a $3-million positive variance to budget 2018, he said.
The report cites a summary deficit of $518 million, which is an improvement of $177 million over the 2017-18 year-end deficit of $695 million. Eleven of the 12 government departments are expecting to be on or within budget, reflecting continued discipline in managing expenditures, the minister noted.
“For the third year in a row, we are expecting government expenses to be within budget but there is still significant work to do to fix the province’s finances and return the budget to balance,” said Fielding. “We made a promise to Manitobans to return the budget to balance in our second term, and we remain committed to a careful and disciplined approach that protects front-line services. We are keeping our promises.”
Second quarter results forecast summary expenditures at $17.3 billion for 2018-19, an improvement of $107 million from the budget. This includes expenditures from government departments and over 180 other reporting entities including regional health authorities, school divisions, post-secondary institutions, child and family services agencies, Crown corporations and other public-sector organizations.
“We are making progress by focusing on the bottom line across the broader public sector, but debt servicing costs continue to negatively impact the province’s ability to invest in health care, education, social services and capital projects,” said Fielding. “Debt servicing costs are projected to exceed $1 billion in 2018-19 for the first time in Manitoba’s history.”
The second quarter report notes the fundamentals of the provincial economy remain strong with employment at record levels, commodity prices rebounding from the lows in 2015 and Manitoba leading the country in private-sector capital investment, but storm clouds remain on the horizon, Fielding said. He noted rising interest rates, trade uncertainty and an unwanted federal carbon tax continue to pose risks to the fiscal stability of the province.
“As we continue to face the challenges we have inherited, I cannot overstate the importance of meeting our financial targets as we work to strengthen the economy and secure the stability of services for Manitobans today and into the future,” said Fielding.
The report can be viewed at www.gov.mb.ca/finance/publications/financialreports.html.