04/16/2013 08:21 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Manitoba budget expected to come with deficit, tax hikes

The Manitoba government is set to release its 2013 budget this hour, and it's widely believed to carry another deficit.

Last year's budget raised certain taxes and user fees, as well as widened the scope of the provincial sales tax, as the government tried to pay down a $1-billion deficit.

The budget also had the province's 11 regional health authorities consolidated into five. As well, Manitoba's liquor and lottery commissions merged into one entity.

Philippe Cyrenne, an economist with the University of Winnipeg, says Manitobans should expect more of the same when Finance Minister Stan Struthers tables the latest budget on Tuesday afternoon.

"They've already raised some taxes on liquor, and so I think there might be some other areas where they're going to try to raise revenue," Cyrenne said Monday.

"There might be some more consolidation. I think they'll try to restrain expenditures in health and education."

Books won't be balanced by 2015

Premier Greg Selinger had long insisted that his NDP government would balance the province's books by the 2014-15 fiscal year.

But in December, Selinger said the government will need at least another two years to do that, citing global economic uncertainty.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says he believes the budget will have more tax hikes.

"High spending of the NDP government means high taxes for Manitobans," Pallister said.

"A lot of Manitobans are suffering as a consequence of those high taxes. Those high taxes put us in a non-competitive situation with a lot of other provinces across this country."

Union fears job cuts

Meanwhile, the union representing the province's public service employees is worried the budget may call for job cuts.

The 2012 budget announced a reduction of 600 public service jobs through attrition.

Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union, says she's concerned more cuts could be coming.

"We're hoping that there's not going to be any more announcements on any more cuts to services to Manitobans," she said.

"It is a concern that we have. They did announce before that there were 600 job cuts. [It] left our members doing a whole lot more with a lot less."