“Manitobans have every right to ask Premier Selinger: What programs and services is he looking to cut and why would he endanger economic growth in this way?”
Winnipeg (21 Nov. 2012) - Manitoba’s NDP Government released its Throne Speech on November 19, which sets a blueprint for the upcoming legislative session and beyond. During the speech, it was announced that government would be looking for future cost savings by cutting approximately 600 jobs through attrition (not filling job vacancies from retirements in government departments and other means) over the next few years.
This will have a significantly negative impact on the programs and services Manitoba families rely on and negatively affect the province’s economy.
“We’re disappointed and more than a little surprised this government would put programs and services in jeopardy by drastically cutting jobs when it has consistently pledged to protect front-line jobs and our economic growth,” said Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees (MGEU/NUPGE). “Manitobans have every right to ask Premier Selinger: What programs and services is he looking to cut and why would he endanger economic growth in this way?”
The Manitoba government has enjoyed stable economic growth in the past few years, partly because it has not cut jobs and implemented harmful austerity policies the way other jurisdictions in Canada have. But adherence to its own restrictive balanced budget legislation, which is the most draconian in the country, leaves the Manitoba government in a position where it must cut jobs to meet its own self-imposed budget targets. The MGEU/NUPGE has long been recommending to government that they get rid of balanced budget legislation. According to Gawronsky, it often leads to a weakened economy and an erosion of programs and services that support families.
The federal government has taken a particularly aggressive approach to cutting civil service jobs, and in April, 2012, Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers reflected on Ottawa’s job cuts by saying, "We don’t want to be going across the board with the kind of cuts we see there. We’re not going to take the draconian, extreme, kind of approach that the Conservatives, either in Ottawa or here in Manitoba, seem to want us to take.”
Federal Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has said restraint and reduction in government spending will act as a drag on economic growth and job creation, pushing the economy further away from its potential and delaying economic growth.
In this speech from the Throne, the province is reversing course and opting instead to follow Ottawa’s lead in cutting jobs for the short-term goal of meeting artificial balanced budget targets.
“What this really amounts to is short-term pain without the long-term gain,” Gawronsky said. “Those jobs will be gone in the short-term, and in the long-term we won’t have those people contributing to our economy. It’s not good economic policy. I think Manitobans support protecting, not eliminating, jobs and services and growing our economy.”
Unfortunately, in Manitoba, the government is choosing a different path, and it is the individuals and families who rely on front-line services most who will be the most adversely affected by this government’s decision to cut jobs today.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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