May 22, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB – NDP Leader Wab Kinew has written a letter to Premier Brian Pallister urging him to commit to reconvening the Legislature more additional sitting days in June in order to answer for his layoffs and budget cuts.
“Mr. Pallister and his cabinet have made multiple decisions in the last two months that have a real life impact on Manitoban families—like relaxing public health orders and reopening schools. They’ve laid off more than 10,000 public sector workers, including 700 at Manitoba Hydro alone, and made $860 million in budget cuts,” said Kinew. “Yet the Premier has agreed to only four sitting days in all of May. That’s not real accountability. That’s ducking public scrutiny because he knows his cuts aren’t justified.”
For the last two months, the Official Opposition has been calling for more regular House sittings, both publicly in media and in private House Leader negotiations. Next Wednesday, May 27th , will be the final sitting day for the foreseeable future. The Premier has refused to allow any more Question Periods after next week. He’s also refused to allow MLAs to discuss the government’s 2020/21 budget in Committee of Supply, a process which takes 100 hours to complete and is typically finished before June.
The provincial government has begun to lift physical distancing requirements and has opted to accelerate Phase 2 of an economic re-opening. The Official Opposition is willing to work with the provincial government to explore virtual sittings as a replacement for some daily sittings.
“If other Manitobans are expected to go back to work, so should the elected Members of the Legislature,” said Kinew. “The Premier doesn’t get to flout democracy and use a health care pandemic to hide his layoffs and budget cuts. The NDP’s job is to hold Mr. Pallister to account and stand up for Manitoba families who have been hurt by his choices. We’re ready to do that job—all summer if necessary.”