Saturday, May 12, 2007

Manitoba election: Promises, promises

Election Promises
Wendy Sawatzky for CBC Online News | Updated May 10, 2007

[Promises] Lower taxes. Better roads. More doctors, more police officers, more money in your pocket … the pledges and promises are thick on the ground this election campaign.

If you're having trouble keeping track of who's vowed to do what, here's a review of what the three major parties have said they'd do if voters choose them to lead the province on May 22.

The NDP have promised to…
Environment Establish a five per cent mandate for biodiesel by 2010 for school buses, government fleet vehicles, agricultural vehicles and the trucking industry.
Environment Create a $1-million biodiesel development fund to support additional biodiesel projects.
Environment Create a $500,000 community wind power fund to help communities set up monitors to determine local wind strength.
Environment Create a new provincewide Farmers Eco-Fund to support producers who implement practices such as wetland preservation.
Taxes Reduce education taxes on farmland by 70 per cent in 2008, 75 per cent in 2009 and 80 per cent in 2010.
misc Increase the conditional grants to 15 from 10 for vets who commit to practise in rural Manitoba.
misc Add 50 new firefighters: 20 more for Winnipeg, four more each in Brandon, Thompson and Portage la Prairie, and 18 more forest firefighters.
misc Double the training funding for municipalities that rely on volunteer fire departments.
Health Hire 100 new doctors over the next four years.
Health Add 10 new spaces at the U of M School of Medicine, increasing the number of spaces to 110, from 100. Also add 10 new spaces to the International Medical Graduate program, increasing the total spaces to 35 from 25.
Health Provide rural and northern doctors with a “guaranteed getaway” by establishing a dedicated, $1-million support fund to fill vacancies when doctors need relief.
Health Introduce new scholarships for aboriginal medical students at the U of M. The annual scholarships would provide $7,000 each to six aboriginal students.
Environment Provide $1.8 million over three years to the Winnipeg Trails Association (WTA) to help develop 32 kilometres of trail across Winnipeg, including portions that make up the Manitoba stretch of the Trans-Canada Trail.
Health Hire dedicated pharmacists for 10 ERs - seven in Winnipeg and one in each of Brandon, Thompson and Selkirk - to help doctors and nurses better deal with the large number of medication-related ER visits.
Health Establish a free-standing Mental Health Crisis Response Centre next to Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre to provide specialized care for up to 10,000 mental-health patients who visit traditional ERs each year.
Health Add five clinical assistant positions to Grace Hospital’s emergency room in a pilot project to better support ER doctors.
Health Establish community teaching sites at Grace, Seven Oaks, Concordia and Victoria General hospitals for a new ER program being established at the University of Manitoba.
Health Increase the number of ER doctor training seats to 13 from five.
misc Add 20 new workplace safety and health inspectors, bringing the total to 74, and dedicate one of the inspectors to rural Manitoba.
Environment Buy a new, state-of-the-art Amphibex ice-breaking machine.
Environment Introduce a WaterSmart program that would eliminate the PST on Energy Star water-saving appliances, provide rebates for consumers who buy low-flow bathroom fixtures, provide loans for the improvement of private water or waste systems, and provide rebates for Energy Star dishwashers, front-load washers and tankless water heaters.
Crime Hire 100 new police officers: 50 for Winnipeg, five for Brandon, 30 RCMP to serve rural Manitoba, and 15 for First Nations communities.
Crime Hire 20 new prosecutors.
Crime Double the size of the Turnabout program for youth who can’t be charged under the Young Offenders Act.
Sports Double funding to $60 million over four years for community-based sports and recreation facilities.
Sports Join the private sector-led team that’s leading the charge to build or redevelop the football stadium.
Health Add 700 new nurses and nurse practitioners over the next four years, including 250 nurses for personal care homes.
Health Hire 100 new health care aides and 50 new front-line professionals -- such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical dieticians and others -- to work in personal care homes.
Health Increase nurse training by adding 100 new spaces at training institutes around the province.
Health Add seven new seats at the graduate school at the University of Manitoba School of Nursing to increase the number of qualified professional instructors.
Environment Introduce legislation that would ensure Manitoba meets its Kyoto targets by 2012.
Environment Reduce Manitoba Hydro’s use of coal.
Environment Create a vehicle efficiency standard, to be recommended by a vehicle advisory board, which would include incentives to deal with older vehicles.
Environment Require the capture of emissions from large landfills.
Environment Establish a new code for efficiency for new buildings.
Environment Develop a plan to switch off-grid communities to renewable energy.
Environment Provide incentives for farmers to undertake projects that reduce emissions.
Sports Launch a First Sports program to provide community centres and recreation associations with grants of $6,500 to fund team uniforms, sporting gear, and groundskeeping and icekeeping equipment.
Health Invest at least an additional $2.4 million (for a total investment of at least $3.2 million) in a new health and fitness centre in Brandon.
Taxes Increase the education property tax credit by $300: to $525 in 2007, $625 in 2008 and $700 in 2009.
Education / Childcare Provide annual funding increases to school divisions above the rate of economic growth to help the province reach the 80-per-cent mark for education funding.
Education / Childcare Provide annual grants and proposed budgets to school division earlier in the budgeting process, to allow them better up-front planning.

The Conservatives have pledged to…
Health Dedicate two per cent of profits from the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission to expand prevention, diagnosis and treatment of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Based on 2006 figures, about $4.8 million would be diverted to the "Fresh Future" fund annually.
Health Provide funding to reopen or create 100 new residential drug treatment beds, focusing on underserved regions, including Brandon and the North.
Education / Childcare Establish a youth intervention centre to provide troubled youth with structured, supervised programs that would teach them responsibility, anger management and give them social and employment skills.
Education / Childcare Construct a state-of-the-art birthing centre, a midwifery training program, and a provincewide perinatal program.
Taxes Abolish the $2-per-head cattle tax.
Environment Provide a rebate equivalent to a three-percentage-point reduction of the provincial sales tax on the purchase of fuel-efficient vehicles.
Environment Set up at least one emissions testing station to allow Manitobans to determine the impact of their cars on the environment.
misc Introduce a "legacy act" that would require unanimous consent of all 57 members of the Manitoba legislature on any bill related to the sale of Manitoba Hydro.
Health Control bureaucratic growth at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority by auditing the authority's books and holding bureaucratic spending to 3 per cent of the overall budget.
Taxes Reduce the provincial sales tax by one percentage point.
Sports Spend up to $3 million to support the creation of a covered fourplex soccer facility in south Winnipeg.
misc Begin consultations to allow Brandon greater control over its own affairs, including land-use decisions, tax exemptions for economic growth, business improvement zones and licences.
Crime Build a 300-cell, $70-million jail for men, with specialized programming for convicts battling addictions.
Sports Reinstate a funding agreement between the Province of Manitoba and the Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC), guaranteeing 75 per cent of net VLT revenues will be returned to the MJC and be reinvested into Assiniboia Downs.
Education / Childcare Establish a "schools of excellence" program under which schools meeting certain criteria - in areas such as student performance, special-needs programming, attendance, community service, parent councils - would be eligible to receive additional provincial funding from a $10-million fund.
Education / Childcare Establish a College of Professional Teachers, responsible for teachers’ education standards, licensing and oversight, which will be cost neutral for teachers.
Education / Childcare Implement standards tests and three stages during kindergarten to Grade 12 math and language arts programs. Results of standards tests will be worth no more than 10 per cent of a student's final grade. Results for individual students will be available to parents, and summary results will be used by administrators; otherwise, results will not be published.
Education / Childcare Establish a provincewide report card system with clear, measurable criteria.
Education / Childcare Strengthen the "schools of choice" policy by ensuring resources follow the student to their school of choice, giving schools more incentive to attract students to their classrooms.
Environment Eliminate the provincial sales tax from purchases of bicycles.
Environment Spend $3 million over the next five years towards the City of Winnipeg’s plan to create a network of bike paths.
Crime Create a new Department of Public Safety - separate from the Department of Justice – that would focus on policing, public safety programs, public security measures, victims' services, correctional services and rehabilitative opportunities for offenders.
Crime Require all provincial court judge nominees to face an interview process, in full public view, before they’re hired. The interview, conducted publicly by a legislative committee, would test their qualifications, views on law and on the role of judges.
Crime Include representatives from both police and victims’ organizations in the process to nominate provincial court judges.
Crime Hire six new judges and two case managers.
Crime Increase the budget to the courts by 25 per cent over the first two years of a Tory mandate.
Crime Add 150 new uniformed officers for the City of Winnipeg over four years. Hire 10 new police officers for Brandon, particularly to combat gang issues in the city. Add 30 new officers to the RCMP.
Crime Hire 50 new support staff and criminal analysts.
Crime Create a special "crime corridor" unit to complement the RCMP consisting of 32 specially trained sheriffs to patrol Manitoba's deadliest highways.
Environment Require all government fleet vehicles to use biofuels.
Environment Provide low-interest loans to assist in the development of biodiesel production facilities.
Environment Maintain the fuel tax exemptions on biofuel products.
Crime Create a Police College and Recruitment Centre to train municipal bylaw enforcement officers, special constables, sheriffs, municipal policing, as well as private security and resource officers.
Crime Use special constables in schools under the direction of a Safe Schools Police Unit. The officers would have specific training in emergency preparedness and conflict resolution.
Crime Conduct a review of the Provincial Police Act to incorporate minimum training standards for police and special constables.
Crime Allow cameras in courtrooms.
Education / Childcare Implement a guaranteed increase in unit funding to child-care centres of two per cent annually for each of the next five years.
Education / Childcare Invest $3 million over two years for new child-care spaces.
Education / Childcare Invest $3 million in capital funding for the expansion and creation of child care facilities.
Crime Hire 25 new prosecutors and "beef up" salaries.

The Liberals have vowed to…
Environment Expand Manitoba Hydro's mandate to include co-operative work with the province’s private sector to develop other forms of energy such as wind, bio-diesel, geo-thermal and solar.
misc Establish a public commission into the future of Manitoba Hydro to conduct a grassroots public review of the future direction of Manitoba Hydro and how the public utility can best serve Manitobans in the future.
misc Screen all government appointments to Manitoba Hydro’s board of directors by a review committee of the Manitoba legislature to ensure the highest-quality people are selected as board members.
Environment Expand Western Manitoba’s successful Alternate Land Use Services (ALUS) pilot program provincewide within four years.The ALUS program currently pays farmers in the rural municipality of Blanchard for maintaining or enhancing lands that provide environmental services, including water, wildlife conservation and carbon dioxide sequestration.
Environment Provide a partial subsidy for testing biodiesel quality.
Health Establish a provincewide specialist network for bone and joint care that reports directly to the province. The network would set provincial standards for care, and co-ordinate call and operating schedules throughout Manitoba.
Crime Create a dedicated police unit to help protect sexually exploited children in Manitoba.
Housing Provide 24-hour on-site security patrols and fully working closed-circuit television monitoring for all Manitoba Housing facilities.
Housing Provide funding for optional meal, exercise and health programs for Manitoba Housing tenants.
Housing Hire six new investigators under the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act to crack down on drug dealing and gang-related activity in publicly subsidized housing complexes.
Taxes Make up to half the interest on mortgage payments tax deductible for first-time homeowners.
Education / Childcare End the wait lists to get into Red River College.
Environment Commit $75 million in immediate provincial funding for high-speed transit, including the option of light rail, based on discussions with the City of Winnipeg, in the first 90 days of a Liberal government.
Environment Increase transit ridership, starting in the first year with free transit passes on weekends for seniors and post-secondary students and reduced fares for seniors and post-secondary students on weekdays.
Environment Require large industrial hog plants and other malodorous operations to be located outside of municipal limits.
Housing Direct new Manitoba Housing facilities be built using a mixed-income co-operative model with both publicly subsidized units and open-market-value units available to co-operative residents.
Housing Give Manitoba Housing tenants the option of using their housing allowance under social assistance to "buy in" to co-operative housing as a resident-owner.
Housing Increase provincial investment in the renovation and preventative maintenance of existing Manitoba Housing facilities to $100 million for those facilities that establish a business plan to move towards greater tenant management and/or co-operative ownership.
Health Guarantee same-day access to a family doctor.
Health Work with family doctors to develop a provincewide electronic medical communication network for medical records.
Education / Childcare Develop a provincewide application of the Seine River School Division’s senior year apprenticeship program model.
Education / Childcare Implement a customized "Pathways to Education" program for the high schools that have the top 10 dropout rates in the province.
Education / Childcare Ensure Advanced Placement programs are available to students in every school division.
Taxes Move toward having the provincial government fund 80 per cent of the cost of public education, with the remaining 20 per cent coming from school taxes on property — a change from the 60-40 split currently in effect.
misc Make Manitoba a "have" province -- so that it does not receive federal equalization payments -- by 2020.
Taxes Phase out the payroll tax over the term of a Liberal government.
misc Establish an Enterprise Incubator Fund that would assist small and medium-sized businesses with initial start-up costs while minimizing risk to the public accounts.
misc Call a public inquiry into the collapse of the Crocus Investment Fund.

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