Provincial budget reaction
Last year, the Manitoba NDP promised to build the most sustainable jurisdiction in North America with its Tomorrow Now plan. Unfortunately, with the 2013 Budget, Manitoba remains stuck in yesterday’s mode of thinking about the environment. Green Action Centre is disappointed that the Province did not take the opportunity to apply a green lens to its budget making by integrating sustainability into its planning process.
“In a flood year like 2013, the environmental costs of not living within our ecological budget should be top of mind for all Manitobans,” said Josh Brandon, communications coordinator with Green Action Centre. “The environment has impacts on every area of life from health and infrastructure to poverty reduction and yet this budget relegates the environment to an area of minor concern.”
Across the board cuts to Conservation and Water Stewardship budget leave little room for ensuring that the environment in Manitoba is safeguarded for future generations. Environmental compliance and protection are cut by seven percent. Even with strong environmental regulations, without funding for compliance companies will know that they can continue to skirt regulations with impunity. These overall cuts to environmental protection send the wrong message about the priorities of this government and the province.
Also of concern is that the gasoline tax remains nearly frozen at 1993 levels. After a 2.5 cent increase in 2012, there is no increase in the gas tax again this year, leaving us further behind the majority of provinces. Instead of funding road infrastructure out of road users through fuel taxes, these improvements will be paid out of increased sales tax. Because gasoline remains exempt from provincial sales tax, the ecological deficit gap continues to increase in 2013.
Moreover, Manitoba’s modest investments in green energy will be more than offset by ongoing subsidies to mining and oil and gas. The oil and gas sector in Manitoba has been growing at a record pace in recent years, but because of subsidies petroleum royalties and fees remain flat.
“Manitoba’s budget needs fiscal reform to ensure that sound ecological principles like polluter pays are maintained. Instead of subsidizing industries like oil and gas that are responsible for massive greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems, we should invest in building a sustainable future in Manitoba,” said Brandon.
Green Action Centre is a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental education. Their 2013 budget recommendations are available at: https://greenactioncentre.ca/2013/greening-manitobas-budget-2013/