Phoenix Cook and Geras Kezimana get new shoes from Finance Minister Cameron Friesen. (Travis Golby/CBC)
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen is breaking an old budget tradition by continuing a habit the Progressive Conservatives started when they took office in 2016.
For the third year in a row, Friesen didn’t buy a new pair of shoes to wear while delivering the budget.
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Instead, the cabinet minister gave sport shoes to two teens who frequent the Youth for Christ centre at Main Street and Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg.
The pair, 14-year-olds Phoenix Cook, originally from Berens River, and Geras Kezimana, who moved to Winnipeg from Burundi a few years ago, are actively involved in programs at Youth For Christ.
The Tories broke with tradition in their first budget by buying a pair of shoes for a child who had just arrived from Syria as a refugee.
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Last year, the PC caucus secured empty shoe boxes and filled them with useful items for women staying in Manitoba shelters.
Friesen told a small gathering at the Youth for Christ centre that his government’s budget will partially seek to ease growing costs for Manitoba families.
The former teacher told the two teens he remembered the pressure and cost parents face.
“Affordability matters and Manitobans deserve a break. Now, my kids are older, but they used to be your age and I remember what it was like. You got into the September season and you buy that new pair of shoes and then by January, the kids are already grown out of those shoes and that cost for parents just keeps on going.”
The Tories say the budget Monday will continue their theme of repairing Manitoba’s finances while offering important services, but this budget will also address issues such as climate change — both taxes to reduce consumption and spending on infrastructure to mitigate greenhouse gas emission.
“Stay tuned for Monday. We will have much more to say about this framing for carbon pricing, investments we will make in green legacy investments, not just now, but for the future,” Freisen said.
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Friesen and Premier Brian Pallister have hinted there will be some adjustment and protection for sectors in Manitoba that would be hit hard by steep carbon tax increases in fuel prices. The province’s agricultural producers have been mentioned often.
The budget, Friesen said, will set out some clear targets on Manitoba’s fiscal situation and where the PC government plans to take the province.
“We have to walk and chew gum at the same time. That means you are going to ask me questions on Monday about our path towards deficit reduction, our path towards tax relief, and our path on taking that next big step on carbon pricing. We are going to do all those things,” Friesen said.
Friesen poured cold water on the idea the PC government would see new revenue from the legalization of marijuana. He told reporters the province has many up-front costs associated with making pot legal and doesn’t expect a windfall this coming year.
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The senate is currently reviewing a law that would legalize marijuana this summer.
The budget will be presented in the Legislature on Monday afternoon.[“Source-cbc”]