May 1, 2015 – For immediate release
Manitoba’s Fish and Wildlife Get No Respect in Budget
The Manitoba Wildlife Federation (MWF) and Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association (MLOA) were disappointed to learn yesterday that Manitoba’s provincial government has cut funding to its fisheries and wildlife branches, merged both branches and eliminated the position of director of fisheries.
The provincial budget released Thursday showed an estimate of $6.71 million directed to the newly combined wildlife and fisheries branch for the upcoming fiscal year. That is down $270,000 from the estimated $6.98 million in 2014/15. Funding to the branches’ parent department of Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship fell 2%, while the department’s capital budget saw a huge drop of nearly 23%, down to $23.5 million from $30.5 million.
“We believe these cuts show that the government does not value fish and wildlife in this province as highly as it should,” said Paul Turenne, Executive Director, Manitoba Lodges and Outfitters Association. “The fisheries and wildlife branches contribute greatly to our province and were already severely under-funded, in our opinion. The government should have been putting more money into these areas, not less.”
“We understand the need for bureaucratic efficiency, but cutting the province’s already miniscule budget at a time when our big game populations are in a state of crisis is not the answer,” said Rob Olson, Managing Director, Manitoba Wildlife Federation. “We believe that the fisheries and wildlife branches were combined for all the wrong reasons, and our province’s fish and wildlife populations could suffer as a result.”
Turenne noted that the combined fisheries and wildlife branches – the staff who manage Manitoba’s valuable fish and wildlife populations – now receive less annual funding than the provincial auditor general’s office. Yet these branches are tasked with managing a precious natural resource that is highly valued by First Nations harvesters, visiting hunters and anglers, and everyday Manitoban outdoorspeople. These rich resources also contribute nearly $470 million annually to the provincial economy*, which is a bigger economic impact to Manitoba than hydro exports ($400 million, according to page A18 of yesterday’s budget). This is not to mention direct government revenues from things like angling and hunting license sales, Crown land leases, and outfitter allocation fees, among other items.
Our organizations feel our fish and wildlife populations deserve more respect from our government, and that yesterday’s cuts show they are viewed simply as an expenditure rather than the asset that they are.
For more information:
Paul Turenne, MLOA
Rob Olson, MWF
*Data based on the Economic Evaluation of Manitoba’s Hunting and Fishing Industry, a study performed by kiSquared and released in February 2012.