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Finance minister seeks local advice during closed door consultation

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Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding hosted a budget consultation meeting with invited local stakeholders, Oct. 17.
“It was a great opportunity to meet with Manitobans. We’re setting our budget process for 2019 and so it’s an opportunity to find out what priorities Manitobans have,” Fielding said.
The meeting in the Old Fire Hall of the Watson Art Centre had representatives from the City and Rural Municipality of Dauphin, Mountain View School Division, the Dauphin and District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Parkland, Dauphin Friendship Centre, plus local business owners from Ritz Machine Works and Tim Hortons.
The biggest theme, Fielding noted, was the provincial debt, with concerns raised regarding health care, education, families and making investments in infrastructure.
“You know if you rebuild the economy in so many different ways through some of the private sector growth, it’s going to mean a lot for the province,” he said.
Fielding was pleased to hear from residents in the area discussing issues from different priority areas.
“In some ways there’s regional issues that come up,” he said.
“But a lot of themes really focus in on comparing some of the services. And I think, for the most part, people are saying stay on the path you’re going of reducing the deficit, but don’t go too fast. We want to make some steady progress and we seem to be on the right track, but don’t jeopardize some of the important services like health care and education when you’re doing it.”
The province hosted public events in Selkirk, Thompson, Flin Flon, Brandon and Winnipeg.
Fielding pointed out Manitobans may participate at public prebudget consultations, as well as submit a written submission, online survey, or call his office.
“Last year we heard from close to 32,000 Manitobans. So it’s an important process and we really do listen to these things,” he said, adding Premier Brian Pallister went through all the submissions summarized for him.
“Sometimes you get the best information by talking to Manitobans. You get out from the dome and listen to real Manitobans in terms of what their priorities are.”
In Dauphin, there were several comments about keeping rural communities vibrant.
Fielding noted the majority of caucus members are from rural and northern Manitoba.
“So I think probably our government, as opposed to other governments, really has more of a rural focus,” he said, noting those attending discussed services and supports.
The group also communicated, Fielding said, incentives for businesses must be brought to rural and northern Manitoba, not just Winnipeg.
“Think of rural Manitoba, that’s where the growth is coming from. And so that came out loud and clear from residents today,” Fielding added.
For more information on the prebudget consultation meetings and to access the survey, visit manitobansmakingchoices.ca.

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M. A. Nyquist
REPORTER
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