The City of Thompson’s Fire & Emergency Services held a vigil this week marking the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, in which 19 terrorists highjacked four jet airliners and flew one into each of the World Trade Center twin towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. It was an honour to march shoulder to shoulder from the fire hall with Thompson firefighters, paramedics, RCMP members and citizens to the Northern Firefighters Tribute on Thompson Drive to honour fallen comrades and to show support, respect and gratitude to the professionals who protect us.
Our government is making strong progress in fixing the province’s finances. In a new report on public accounts, the Office of the Auditor General has reaffirmed our responsible approach to fiscal management and prudent budgeting. The report reflects the effective measures we are taking to respond to the massive debt and deficits that were left behind by the previous NDP administration. The provincial debt doubled under the NDP to $22 billion in just eight years, and Manitoba’s deficit was projected to climb to $1.7 billion by 2019 if left unaddressed. After forming government more than two years ago, we have continued to hit and even outperform our budget targets. The Auditor General has noted that under our government in 2016-17, the actual deficit was lower than the budgeted deficit. In a measured way, we have now reduced the projected 2017-18 deficit to $726 million and are projecting a deficit of $521 million for 2018-19.
The report from the Auditor General isn’t the only independent acknowledgement that our government is on the right path. Global credit rating agency DBRS Ltd. recently endorsed our approach to decreasing the deficit in what it called a “responsible fashion without jeopardizing service delivery.” As well, credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings has stated that our government “has made meaningful progress toward its goal” to balance the budget during our second term.
We are making real progress for Manitobans with better fiscal practices that are putting our province on a path to sustainability. This is essential to protecting the services northerners depend on.