The 2023 provincial budget was announced on Tuesday under the Stefanson government, with a projected revenue increase of $ 2,161 million, or an 11.2 per cent increase, from Budget 2022.
Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart explains there are a number of items in this budget that will impact our constituency, including infrastructure funding.
"We're all quite aware of of the infrastructure upgrades that are going on with roads and bridges, and that's going to continue and, hopefully, come to finality this year with most of it," explains Wishart. "We're all watching the hospital being built and that's a huge infrastructure issue, and, of course, a lot of things have to go with that infrastructure to make it work well, including staffing and supports."
Wishart says more hours are being provided to the RAAM (Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine) Clinic in our city, and more announcements are upcoming.
"There was also a focus on safety and security, which means more dollars going to help with the Crown prosecutor backlogs in dealing with some of the frequent offenders, and the Special Taskforce to help deal with them," continues Wishart. "There's a lot of emphasis on the childcare program with the $10-a-day cost. We already have one additional childcare being built in Portage. I know there's been a backlog in that area."
He notes affordability is one of the overall themes of this year's budget.
"There are also some savings to taxpayers in this one," says Wishart. "We'll continue our multi-year plan to reduce education tax on houses and agricultural farmland this year, getting to the 50 per cent level which is quite a big change in the last few years. Also, there'll be a change in the personal deduction and that will have a big impact, especially on folks with lower income. You'll be able to make $15,000 before you pay any tax whatsoever, up from a little over $10,000. That's a big change and, nationally, that moves us quite a distance. We were second worst in the country and this puts us about third."
Wishart says we'll all notice the change of this personal tax deduction when more dollars for workers and those in the disability sector are left untaxed.
He notes many more elements are involved in the new budget, but these are the major ones and he says all of these changes will affect Portage.
"There's also some infrastructure dollars that will go toward water treatment in Portage, and that allows us to continue growing into the future," adds Wishart.