(Adds details on spending, revenues, minister comment, debt
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 11 The western
Canadian province of Manitoba on Tuesday forecast an C$840
million ($630 million) deficit for its 2017-18 budget, its ninth
straight shortfall, as Premier Brian Pallister's Progressive
Conservatives chart a long path back to balanced budgets.
A year-over-year reduction in the province's deficit would
inch Manitoba toward surplus territory, after it recorded an
C$872 million shortfall in the 2016-17 fiscal year that ended
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen repeated a pledge that the
government would balance its budget within seven years, if it
wins a second term in office.
"Some of our provincial neighbors are pursuing different
paths involving stark decisions, choosing higher taxes or
pursuing increased spending," Friesen said in a statement.
"Manitoba's budget avoids such drastic measures."
Neighboring Prairie province Saskatchewan, which last month
forecast a C$685 million deficit, boosted its provincial sales
Manitoba's economy depends on farming, manufacturing and
mining. The province's spending cuts include infrastructure
related to roads and healthcare, phasing out a tax credit for
student tuition and capping a credit for unpaid caregivers.
The government projected spending at C$17.1 billion and
revenue of C$16.1 billion, both up about 3 percent. The budget
includes C$115 million for possible additional savings during
Manitoba's gross domestic product is forecast to grow 1.8
percent in 2017, lagging the Canadian average among provinces of
2.3 percent, TD Economics said last month.
The province's net debt was an estimated C$23.1 billion on
March 31, and is expected to rise to C$24.8 billion by the same
date in 2018.
($1 = 1.3333 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; editing by
Meredith Mazzilli, G Crosse)