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Province seeks input on spring budget

Jennifer Howard

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Jennifer Howard

THE paint is barely dry on the last budget and already Finance Minister Jennifer Howard is working on the next one.

Howard and other NDP ministers were in Brandon over the past two days to hold public meetings on the spring budget and to host an infrastructure round table with local politicians and labour and construction groups. Joining Howard were Municipal Government Minister Stan Struthers, Jobs and the Economy Minister Theresa Oswald and Brandon East MLA Drew Caldwell.

Howard said over the coming weeks, her challenge is meeting with people who may not have attended public budget consultations in the past.

"I want to go and talk to moms who are hanging out with their kids about what should be in the budget," Howard said.

"I want to go and talk to our seniors and I want to go and talk to some of the newcomers to our province."

Howard said the trick is getting the word out about pre-budget meetings without violating the province's election laws. A call for a byelection for Morris and the following campaign will overlap some meetings, and the Election Finances Act bans any government department or Crown agency from publishing or advertising information about its programs or activities, unless absolutely necessary, during an election campaign.

"We have to make sure we don't violate the rules," Howard said. "That makes it a little trickier to organize those meetings. We want to do this in a way that respects the law."

In the meantime, the government has launched an online survey to get your thoughts on the 2014 provincial budget.

The pre-budget survey is at http://web15.gov.mb.ca/inquisite/cgi-bin/qwebcorporate.dll?EMKMQH.

Upcoming meetings are planned next month in Gimli and Steinbach and in February at a Red River College trade class and with seniors at Villa Cabrini in Winnipeg. Meetings are also to take place in Dauphin and Churchill.

Those unable to attend a meeting can make a written submission by emailing minfin@leg.gov.mb.ca or by mail c/o Budget Consultations, Room 103, Legislative Building, 450 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8.

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