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Goertzen says budget good for constituents

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 03/17/2018 12:00 PM

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Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen said he believes the province’s newly released budget will be one that his constituents will appreciate because it reduces the provincial deficit, while also reducing income taxes.

"I think there are a lot of positives when it comes to things that the people of the Steinbach constituency have been asking for, for a number years," said Goertzen, about the new budget which was unveiled on Monday by Premier Brian Pallister and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen.

Reductions in the budget will be offset in part by the new federally mandated carbon tax, which is expected to result in $1 billion flowing to the province over the next four years.

"Over the time that I have been MLA I have often heard that we should move towards balancing the budget and heard a lot of concerns over the last few years that the NDP were not only increasing the deficit but also increasing the debt that goes along with that," Goertzen said.

"We took significant steps in terms of reducing the deficit this last fiscal year and there is a projection to reduce the deficit by another $200 million next year."

Goertzen called the province’s plan to reduce the deficit a "fiscally responsible" approach.

"There are some that would like us to do it faster and some that would like us to do it slower, but ultimately we have to do it in a responsible way," Goertzen said.

Goertzen also touted the budget’s reduction in income taxes as something that he believes will be appreciated by his constituents.

Beginning in 2019, the basic personal exemption in Manitoba will rise by $1,010, with the exemption increasing by a further $1,010 for the 2020 tax year.

That exemption would see Manitobans keep $109 more of their income in 2019 and $109 again in 2020.

"I’ve certainly heard over the years, being the nature of our constituency that people work pretty hard and would like to keep more of the money that they earn," Goertzen said.

"The ability to raise the basic personal exemption so that people can keep more money than they earn before they start paying taxes is important."

Goertzen said that as Manitoba’s Health Minister he also thinks it was important for the province to reduce the fees involved in calling an ambulance during an emergency.

The province’s budget will see a reduction in ambulance fees from $420 to $340, and Goertzen said the province hopes to ultimately get the cost of calling an ambulance down to "the desired goal of $250."

"If you have to go on a payment plan to pay for an ambulance bill there is something not quite right," Goertzen said. "We don’t want people facing an emergency to have to think ‘should we call an ambulance or drive ourselves.’"

Goertzen said he believes the 2018-19 budget shows that the province is on track to ultimately balance the budget.

"We made a commitment to balance the budget within eight years and do it in a measured responsible way, and we are certainly on track to do that."

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