“For a government elected to improve public services, we didn’t see that backed up in this budget." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (12 April 2017) — The Manitoba Government unveiled Budget 2017 on April 11. Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), says that public sector workers will be largely underwhelmed by what they saw.
No new investments for health care or education
“At a time when this government is closing ERs, there will be no new investments in personal care home beds,” Gawronsky said. “And funding for home care and long-term care is flat. Our members in health care know better than anyone that this, combined with emergency room closures, is a prescription for disaster.”
For MGEU/NUPGE members who work in post-secondary education, funding will remain status quo with no increases for colleges and universities.
“We know education is key to good jobs for young Manitobans,” added Gawronsky. “We didn’t see that investment in this budget, and I know our members in education have been telling us that the status quo for another year just won’t do.”
Improvements to public services invisible in Budget 2017
Gawronsky says that many of the significant fiscal restraints, such as wage freezes and 2years of wage caps well below the cost of living for public employees, were announced well before budget day, and Budget 2017 didn’t provide a lot of detail about how the government will invest in the people who deliver those services.
“For a government elected to improve public services, we didn’t see that backed up in this budget,” said Gawronsky. “Instead, our members are asked once again to do more with less this year.”
Budget 2017 highlights
- Core government spending is expected to rise 2.1 per cent. All departments will get increases except for Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Indigenous and Municipal Relations, Sport, Culture and Heritage, and Sustainable Development.
- The province will spend more than $1.7 billion on infrastructure — about the same as last year — but reductions are forecast for both highway construction and highway maintenance.
- Government will pursue further privatization, including public-private partnerships.
- There was no mention of additional funding for addictions programs in the budget.
- The Manitoba Tuition Fee Income Tax Rebate is eliminated this year for current students. For graduates, it is reduced this year and will be eliminated next year.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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