Pallister’s new budget raises major concerns

The Manitoba Federation of Labour is deeply concerned about the Pallister government’s new budget.  In the election, Premier Pallister promised to protect front-line services and respect the people who deliver them. Today’s budget breaks that promise, with serious cuts to public services that families count on every day.

The Pallister government is moving forward with measures that will erode public services, hurt Manitoba families and fail to grow our economy – measures like:

  • Closing three emergency rooms in Winnipeg;
  • Raising tuition fees, cutting apprenticeships and eliminating tuition rebates for students;
  • Cutting mental health and addictions programming;
  • Cancelling planned investments in cancer treatment facilities and personal care homes;
  • Scaling-back investments in new schools, health facilities, roads and affordable housing;
  • Laying off 900 workers at Manitoba Hydro;
  • Reducing support for the arts; and
  • Legislates wage freezes and wage caps, well below increases in the cost-of-living, without even coming to the bargaining table and trying to reach a deal.

Budget 2017 also marks the second year in a row that the Pallister government has failed to raise the minimum wage. At only $11/hour, Manitoba’s minimum wage falls fall short of a living wage for working families. “Working full time should be a clear pathway out of poverty”, said Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, “but at today’s rate, minimum wage keeps working families trapped below the poverty line.” A full-time minimum wage worker will be actually be $800 worse off as a result of Pallister’s minimum wage freeze, due to the effects of inflation on reduced purchasing power.

Budget 2017 cuts funding for positions in Workplace Safety and Health, Employment Standards and the Manitoba Labour Board. “Today’s budget tells us a lot about what this government thinks is important, and what it doesn’t, said Rebeck. It’s clear that protecting workers and respecting fair bargaining rules are not priorities for this government.”

Under questioning from stakeholders and the media at today’s budget scrum, Manitoba’s Finance Minister, Cameron Friesen, refused to give any assurance that public sector jobs would be protected.

The Manitoba Federation of Labour is Manitoba’s central labour body, representing the interests of more than 100,000 unionized workers from every sector, in every region of the province.