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Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen say the province is on track with regards to it's budget targets for this year.

In December, the province released its second quarter report which showed the summary budget deficit, which includes Crown corporations, schools, and health authorities at $827 million, $13 million below what it was projecting.

That report also showed no change in the provincial projection of a $779-million deficit for the 2017-18 fiscal year for core government operations.

Friesen says Manitobans will get an update on the province's financial situation on March 12 when the Tory government introduces Budget 2018

"This is an important day for all of us in Manitoba. Two years ago we set out a plan to Manitobans to fix our finances, repair the services and rebuild our economy and we have been making progress. Now, of course, we will be talking about the year ahead, the investments we need to make, the way we need to reduce that deficit over time, being able to keep our promises, build that trust and get progress for all Manitobans."

Friesen cites the high cost of servicing Manitoba's debt, the upward trend in interest rates and the uncertainty surrounding the NAFTA agreement as some of the big challenges facing the Pallister government has it attempts to bring the province into fiscal balance.

No doubt many Manitobans are hoping the budget spells out some kind of financial relief for them on the heels of rising interest rates and a proposal by Manitoba Hydro to increase its rates by 7.9 percent each year for the next seven years.

Friesen says the province is trying to address the high cost of living that Manitobans by getting its own financial house in order.

"We've got to do our utmost to create the conditions in this province in which families get to keep more of their hard earned money because those are the real people who grow our economy. Affordability matters to seniors, to students, to low-income earners, to families and small business which is the engine of our economy. We've got our eye on that ball and we have got to do better in this jurisdiction.

The provincial government will release its 2018 budget on March 12.

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