Flying in the face of the Manitoba government's invitation to find ways to improve the province's fiscal situation, it now wants to talk only about how it can make cuts to the public sector. These cuts may include reduced worked weeks, predetermined wage settlements, changes to pensions and the re-opening of collective agreements.
Winnipeg (10 Feb. 2017) — At a meeting on January 5, the Minister of Finance and officials invited Manitoba’s public sector unions to participate in what was referred to as a Fiscal Working Group with a mandate to explore solutions to returning the province’s budget to balance.
In the lead-up to the meeting, the Manitoba Federation of Labour put forward several questions to the Minister to better understand the government’s assumptions and fiscal outlook. The Pallister government’s 2016 budget was the first in many years to not include a 5-year fiscal outlook, which would include assumptions and projections for key economic indicators.
Manitoba government changes agenda to focus on ways to cut conditions for public sector workers
On February 9, one day prior to the first meeting of the Fiscal Working Group, government official emailed the Manitoba Federation of Labour a letter (dated February 8) to indicate that the Fiscal Working Group is no longer intended to consider options to improve the government’s fiscal situation, but rather, would focus only on the government’s narrow legislative intentions which may include reduced worked weeks, predetermined wage settlements, changes to pensions and the re-opening of collective agreements.
By denying basic financial information and changing the parameters of any conversations with government, the Premier and Minister of Finance are preventing labour from participating in a meaningful consultation.
Public sector unions want to find balanced approach for fiscal plan
Manitoba’s public sector unions want to work constructively with the province to find a balanced approach — that includes returning to balance over an 8-year period, as committed in the budget — without doing irreparable harm to schools, hospitals and other public services.
But it seems Premier Pallister is more focused on cuts to public services and reopening signed contracts than protecting those services and the people who deliver them.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE