Manitoba's provincial credit rating downgraded by S&P Global Ratings

WINNIPEG – A global rating agency has downgraded Manitoba’s credit rating, citing its rising debt burden.

S&P Global Ratings, previously known as Standard and Poor’s, bumped the province’s credit rating to double-A-minus from double-A.

In a release, the agency says the downgrade reflects the expectation that Manitoba will have a sustained debt burden for several years higher than that of its peers.

It says the negative outlook reflects the view that the province faces significant challenges bringing itself back into fiscal balance.

The agency says there is a one-in-three chance that the province’s financial targets will not be met.

Finance Minister Cameron Friesen has said the Conservative government is wrestling with a $1-billion deficit and likely won’t balance the books until 2024.

Friesen called the downgrade disappointing.

“Our government is committed to improving the challenging fiscal position that our province finds itself in as a result of the overspending and missed targets witnessed under the previous administration,” he said in a statement.

“Our government recognizes the importance of credit ratings and the impact that changes to our credit rating and outlook may have on our province’s bottom line.”

Friesen said the government is committed to finding savings and keeping annual spending growth below three per cent.

“We intend to meet those targets.”

S&P recently downgraded Saskatchewan to double-A-plus from triple-A due to low natural resource prices.

This spring, two other rating agencies downgraded Alberta’s rating to double-A from triple-A due to government debt levels and low oil prices.