By Jeremy Davis
It is officially budget season at the government level and highlighting budgets at the city, provincial and federal levels is important because they can offer insights into each level of governments’ spending plans and priorities for the coming year. More specifically, for those interested in the real estate market, we’re looking for policies and initiatives that can support affordable homeownership, increased housing supply, the growth of our market region, value for taxpayers, and safe and thriving communities.
A couple of weeks ago, the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate News featured a column on the City of Winnipeg’s Preliminary 2023 Balanced Budget Update and the importance of a multi-year balanced budget process.
This past week, the Province of Manitoba unveiled Budget 2023 which charts a course for the coming year at the provincial level. For this week’s column, we invited the Manitoba Real Estate Association to share more on the Province of Manitoba’s Budget 2023.
Below is a column submitted by Lorne Weiss, Manitoba Real Estate Association Political Action Committee Chair:
Earlier this week, the provincial government delivered its 2023 budget aimed at making life more affordable for Manitobans and delivering services that better our communities.
In many cases, they align with the three questions that often are raised by homebuyers when working with a REALTOR®: What are the taxes? How are the schools? How safe is the neighbourhood?
Policies that focus on these core areas of well-being for Manitobans were the focus of the Manitoba Real Estate Association when we appeared before the government during pre-budget consultations.
We applaud the government for its commitment to move the funding of education off the backs of homeowners and to be funded from general revenue.
All social programs — healthcare, community supports, and education — should be adequately funded from general revenue and not on the backs of homeowners.
To this end, the government delivered more tax relief in Budget 2023 by providing a 50% rebate on the education property tax which works out to a savings of $774 for the average homeowner.
Transitioning the funding of education from property owners to general revenue should be done at the same time as ensuring education is adequately funded. Indeed, these two important actions are not mutually exclusive.
REALTORS® support an education system that is properly and equitably funded, where resources are provided to students and teachers and where supports are provided to those with the greatest need.
We were pleased to see Budget 2023 deliver an additional $100 million dollars to the Manitoba K-12 education system. Broken down, this means a $63-million increase in operating support, including an additional $20-million to address cost pressures, $5-million for special needs and increases in other existing grants, and a $24-million increase to the Property Tax Offset Grant.
REALTORS® will continue to support additional education funding at the same time as funding of education moves from property tax to general revenue.
Community safety is a top priority for Manitobans. Indeed, homebuyers want to live in neighbourhoods where they do not need to worry about their well-being and the safety of their children.
We were pleased to see the focus in Budget 2023 on this important issue. The budget invests over $51-million in a new, two-year Violent Crime Strategy and over $3.6-million to support the Downtown Community Safety Partnership.
We also appreciate the commitments the government has made to address issues that underly homelessness, notably mental health and addictions issues. The budget provides over $51-million this year for a homelessness strategy. The Manitoba government is also funding year two of the Mental Health Five-Year Roadmap with $17.3-million, and provides $9.4- million for 1,000 new addictions treatment spaces.
As REALTORS®, we will continue to focus our public policy work on areas that provide access
to affordable homeownership and strengthen our communities.
For more information on Budget 2023, please see https://www.manitoba.ca/budget2023/index.html
Jeremy Davis is the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board’s Director External Relations & Market Intelligence.