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On January 22 the Manitoba government launched Budget 2021 public engagement activities asking Manitobans for feedback on how to prioritize investments for the upcoming year. Several engagement opportunities were available including a series of telephone town halls, a series of virtual meetings, a quick poll and an online survey. Nearly 51, 000 participants took part in a Budget 2021 engagement activity and provided feedback on their priorities to help shape our upcoming provincial budget. In total over 38, 000 participants took part in a series of telephone town halls with the Minister of Finance. Audio recordings are available from each of the sessions. Listen to Telephone Town Hall Recordings In total over 100 participants joined the Minister of Finance for a series of virtual meetings. Recordings are available from each of the sessions. Watch Virtual Meeting Recordings In total 6, 813 participants took part in an online poll identifying which government priority was most important to them personally.Quick Poll Results In total 5,541 participants provided feedback through an online survey between January 22 and February 21. Budget 2021 Survey Results
Participants indicated their top three Budget 2021 priorities as improving health care (73 per cent), improving education and child care (52 per cent) and increasing mental health and addictions (43 per cent). Feedback on how to approach the provincial deficit was mixed with 37 percent of participants indicating government should stick with its plan to balance the budget by 2027 and 44 per cent of participants indicating government should balance the budget later than 2027, even if it means higher deficits and more provincial debt. Participants were asked to rate various health care spending items as high priority, medium priority, low priority or not a priority. The top three high priority spending areas were improving care in long-term facilities (64 per cent), providing more personal protective equipment for front-line workers (58 per cent) and reducing surgical wait times (47 per cent).
Compared to other high priority areas of health care spending getting the COVID-19 vaccine out to Manitobans is seen as the highest priority with 57 per cent of participants indicating the provincial government should spend whatever it takes getting all Manitobans who want it vaccinated as soon as possible.
Overall, the majority of participants approve of the provincial government’s current approach to providing the COVID-19 vaccine with 84 per cent indicating they somewhat or strongly approve. Participants were asked to rate various steps the provincial government can take to help the economy recover from the effects of COVID-19. The top three steps identified as high priority by participants were creating apprenticeship training opportunities (44 per cent), investing in infrastructure (40 per cent) and helping Manitoba businesses increase the amount of goods and services they sell in other markets (33 per cent).
Participants were asked to rate various steps that could help residents and businesses recover from the economic effects of COVID-19. The top three steps identified as very helpful by participants were grant programs for businesses (49 per cent), commercial rent assist programs for small businesses (44 per cent), and deferring interest or penalties on public services such as hydro bills or auto insurance (41 per cent). The majority of survey participants are satisfied with the current education system and the quality of education our students receive with 56 per cent indicating they are very or somewhat satisfied. Participants were asked to rate various education and child care spending items as high priority, medium priority, low priority or not a priority. The top three high priority spending areas were investing in programs that improve students’ learning outcomes (59 per cent), making child care more affordable (50 per cent), and providing a higher number of child care spaces (44 per cent).