The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) is calling for an investigation after the Manitoba government announced it was writing off the second of two loan portions for Investors Group Field (IGF), leaving taxpayers on the hook for $200 million.
The province is writing off a loan of $82 million because it doesn’t believe the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and others will be able to pay it off, Premier Brian Pallister said Wednesday. The provincial government has already written off another $118 million loan portion that helped get the stadium built in 2013.
Todd MacKay, the CTF’s Prairie Director, told Global News it’s an unfair burden left on taxpayers.
“If you have a mortgage and you start missing payments, the first couple of times your bank manager will phone you and say, ‘Hey, could you get that payment in,’ but if you keep missing payments, they’ll take your house,” MacKay said. “The bank is not just going to look the other way.”
In this case, MacKay said a lot of the responsibility should go to the former NDP government of arranging the ‘bad deal,’ but said that is not where the blame ends.
“Premier Brian Pallister and his government, they were elected to clean up messes,” he said. “It’s been two years and we still don’t know what went wrong.”
MacKay said an investigation is needed to make sure similar deals aren’t made in the future.
Only Manitoba’s Auditor General has the authority to launch an official investigation. Staff at Norm Ricard’s office said he was not available to speak Thursday.
Finance Minister Scott Fielding said the new loan writeoff will affect the final deficit figure for the last fiscal year, which will be revealed later this week.
Pallister said the changes are needed to make the government’s finances transparent, and he remains committed to balancing the budget by 2024.
On Wednesday, Winnipeg Blue Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller told 680 CJOB the loan debacle doesn’t change anything as far as the club is concerned, saying they will continue to make payments.