Provincial budget included continued support for home care, long term care, community living, and colleges and universities.
Winnipeg (01 June 2016) — On May 31, Manitoba’s newly elected Progressive Conservative government unveiled its first budget. The budget charts a course for how the Province will invest tax dollars in the coming year and sets a tone for other organizations to plan for their futures.
Despite change in government, Manitobans priority is protecting public services
Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE), was watching to see whether the government’s commitment to protecting public services was reflected in the budget. MGEU/NUPGE members have consistently brought forward concerns about being stretched thin with fewer resources and increased workloads because of positions going unfilled as part of vacancy management programs. Their hope was that some of these concerns would be addressed in the budget, as well.
“Manitobans voted for change in who will lead them over the next four years, but they haven’t changed their minds about the importance of public services — they want them protected,” Gawronsky said. ”Manitobans don’t want austerity and cuts, they want investment in services and jobs, and that’s what we wanted to see today.”
Budget contains areas causing concern but also positive measures
What the budget revealed was not radically different from recent budgets under the previous government, but there were signs of concern. Of particular note was the inclusion of language about privatization schemes, like social impact bonds, being used to fund public services, the relative lack of attention paid to alleviating poverty, and no mention of an increase to the minimum wage. There was also a cut of $1.8 million in funding to the Manitoba Developmental Centre.
On the positive side, the budget included continued support for home care, long term care, community living, and colleges and universities, while the Selkirk Mental Health Centre and Addictions Foundation Manitoba also saw their funding maintained.
MGEU/NUPGE's research shows public support behind investing in public services and increase in corporate taxes
For MGEU/NUPGE members, the discussion will always centre on protecting and enhancing services, and Manitobans share these priorities. Recently, the MGEU/NUPGE released the results of a public opinion poll that underlined the top priority for Manitobans is protecting public services, as it has consistently been in the past.
Based on poll results, and advice from its members, the MGEU/NUPGE recommended that the government hold true to their commitment to protect public services, ensure no privatization of services takes place, including using social impact bonds or other privatization schemes to fund and deliver public services, and to increase taxes on large corporations and on households with before-tax annual incomes of $200,000.
“These priorities reflect the wishes and values of Manitobans,” Gawronsky said. “And while this budget did not contain a lot in the way of cuts, we’ll be taking a closer look at the details in the days to come."
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