Manitoba budget expected to include tax cuts, new money to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Mantitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding speaks with the media in Ottawa, on Dec. 17, 2019.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The Manitoba government is expected to cut some taxes and offer new money to fight COVID-19 in today’s provincial budget.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding says there will be supports for people who have been hurt by the pandemic’s effects on the economy.

He also says there will be $1.2-billion in COVID-19 spending for such things as protective equipment and extra staffing at vaccination centres.

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The Progressive Conservative government has already said the budget will follow through on two earlier tax promises.

One is to start phasing out the education tax on property, and the other is to eliminate the provincial sales tax on personal care services such as haircuts.

Fielding says the tax cuts are needed, even as the province is predicting a $1.6-billion deficit.

“Specifically during a pandemic, Manitobans need relief,” he said.

Of the new health-care money, $100-million is expected to go toward getting more COVID-19 vaccines in people’s arms. About 14 per cent of adult Manitobans had received at least one dose as of Tuesday.

The Opposition New Democrats called for much more money for the vaccine program.

“This is an investment in our economy. This is an investment in our province. This is an investment in us bringing the pandemic to an end,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

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