Brian Pallister has returned from his tropical paradise well rested with scissors sharpened.
Value Manitoba is trying to keep a tally of the measures that (supposedly) will make Manitoba the “most improved province in Canada”. It’s a bit of challenge though. The attack on working people and front-line services has escalated and announcements of cuts are coming fast and furious.
Here is what we’ve got so far.
- Labour legislation has been weakened—worker protections gutted and unions are being undermined
- Minimum wage has been frozen indefinitely while cost of living continues to grow
- Good jobs are being cut:
- 112 senior government positions have been eliminated
- 900 jobs to be cut from Manitoba Hydro
- 15% of the workforce at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries as well as Manitoba Public Insurance to be cut “as a starting point”
In addition to the above, Brian Pallister has made his intentions clear – he aims to freeze wages and open up (previously negotiated and agreed upon) collective agreements, in the face of existing court decisions. This could mean wage, benefit and pension cuts to teachers, nurses and government workers, as well as mandatory reduced work with legislation similar to that which gave us ‘Filmon Fridays’ back in the 1990s.
Capital projects cut:
This is another big hit for our economy. Seniors, the sick, and skilled trades people are particularly hard hit when previously approved projects such these are cancelled:
- Lac Du Bonnet personal care home
- Thompson Northern Consultation Clinic
- St. Vital Primary Care Access Clinic
- St. Boniface Blood Bank
- The Pas Primary Care Clinic
- New CancerCare Manitoba facility
Families and the economy both suffer when safe and affordable childcare is not a priority. Wait lists for childcare in Manitoba are again on the rise. Yet the Pallister governments freeze on capital grants means that over a dozen not-for-profit organizations cannot proceed with their plans to expand to meet the needs of Manitobans. There are now over 15000 names on childcare wait lists, up from 12000 just a few years ago.
Many community non-profit service providers have yet to receive confirmation of continued funding. As described in this CCPA Fast Facts, these organizations provide critical services—yes the kinds of front line services Brian Pallister promised to maintain—to some of the most vulnerable Manitobans. And they do so at a relatively low cost. One would think that this form of service delivery would be ideologically appealing to the Pallister government (provided mainly by non-unionized low wage workers) so maybe, just maybe, these services will escape Pallister’s Scissor Hands.
See our post by Anthony Huynh regarding changes to Manitoba’s Provincial Nominee Program that will make it increasingly difficult for “skilled worker” applicants wishing to come to Manitoba.
What we’ve heard from Pallister so far leads us to believe that there will be more reliance on what Pallister describes as “generous Manitobans”. In case you’re wondering, that’s code for cuts to government supports. Stay tuned for more on Pallisters ‘plan’ (or lack of) to address poverty.
So far the Pallister government has revealed a couple of things that cause concern. It plans to remove the cap on class size, making it more difficult for teachers to provide quality education in increasingly complex and diverse classrooms. It also plans to boost tuition fees upward of 5%, making post secondary education less accessible to Manitoba students.
Manitobans better brace themselves, as there are likely many more so-called ‘improvements’ coming in what is increasingly looking to be the 2017 austerity budget.