Manitoba's Finance Minister is set to share what the government's 2021-2022 fiscal goals are, including supports for the COVID-19 vaccination program.

This week  Finance Minister Scott Fielding will be sharing how the province is planning to spend taxpayer money.

“Budget 2021 will outline our immediate priority of protecting Manitobans during the pandemic and chart our path forward to advance Manitoba, post-pandemic. We have dedicated funding to address both our short-term and long-term priorities in health care and economic recovery," he says in a statement.

Part of that announcement is close to $1.8 billion being allocated towards the COVID-19 response.

"The majority of the funding includes amounts for the health-care system, the full-year cost of the vaccine program, support that may be required for the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system to respond to the pandemic, and additional personal protective equipment and related supplies," the province says in a statement.

Overall in the 2020-2021 school year, there has been a slight drop in public school enrollment by 2.3 per cent, and a sharp rise in homeschooling, increasing by 117.6 per cent.

"We have budgeted additional amounts for the anticipated costs of protecting Manitobans, such as procuring more personal protective equipment and continuing to deploy the vaccine across the province in the largest immunization campaign in Manitoba history," Health Minister Heather Stefanson says in a statement.

Other estimated costs in the upcoming fiscal year include:

• $230 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), testing and vaccine site infrastructure, contact tracing and other preparations as part of the province’s overall public health response;
• $350 million for additional health-care systems costs in preparation for a potential third COVID-19 wave;
• $160 million to support school and education needs over this and next school year;
• $100 million for the vaccine program; and
• $40 million for Manitoba Restart Program capital initiatives at the municipal level.

Fielding says $300 million will be placed into a contingency fund, anticipating new pandemic needs.

A mile in their shoes

Each year since 2016 before announcing the new fiscal budget, Fielding bought himself a new pair of shoes. New shoes is a tradition among the province's finance ministers. This year, he's giving one away.

"Keeping this government’s tradition since 2016, I gifted a pair of shoes to a deserving Manitoban rather than buying new budget day shoes for myself. Thank you Chaturika Mesgun and all the hard-working employees at the provincial lab," Fielding tweets.

The Kirkfield Park MLA gave Mesgun new shoes as part of his budget announcement Tuesday morning outside of Cadham Provincial Laboratory, her workplace.

“We are honoured to have a member of Cadham Provincial Laboratory be chosen to receive this gift. The events of the past year and the resulting increase in workload have been unprecedented for the laboratory and the staff rose to the challenge," Denise Sitter, executive director of Cadham Provincial Laboratory says in a statement. 

The executive director says she is thankful for the "dedication, professionalism and countless hours of hard work" of the staff at the lab.