November 5, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB—The NDP Official Opposition delayed passage of the government’s harmful budget legislation late into the night on Thursday, as a symbolic rejection of Premier Pallister’s plan to hike Hydro rates for regular families.
“The Pallister government is trying to force through an omnibus budget bill that, buried deep within it, raises Hydro rates for every Manitoban,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Families are already struggling to pay the bills, but this government would make life more expensive in the middle of a pandemic. We will use every tool in our toolkit to fight Hydro increases.”
The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act (BITSA) is the practical legislation which implements measures announced in 2020 Budget. That budget, which included cuts to health and education, was introduced prior to the first wave of pandemic lockdown in March. Despite knowing his budget failed to prepare Manitoba for the coming pandemic and invest in critical health care services like ICUs, the Premier refused to scrap the outdated plan.
Now, as COVID-19 cases surge in Manitoba and the province enters into its second lockdown, the Pallister government is forcing through a packed budget bill that would make life more expensive and harder for working families. Buried deep within the omnibus bill are plans to:
• Increase Hydro rates by nearly 3% for all Manitobans and bypass the requirement for the Public Utilities Board to approve the hike;
• Increase natural gas rates by 3% after already increasing it by more than 5% earlier this year;
• Increase child care fees for parents in the middle of a pandemic, and
• Grant government unprecedented ability to interfere in the operations of school boards, universities and colleges and hospitals;
• Prevent Indigenous families or organizations from filing lawsuits against the provincial government related to the clawing back of special funding for those in the child welfare system;
• Eliminate the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet, which coordinates across government to improve outcomes for children and invest in prevention and nutrition.
“These are just some of the regressive, harmful measures that will come into effect once this bill is passed,” said NDP House Leader Nahanni Fontaine. “Unlike the Conservatives, who are content to make life more expensive and make it harder for Indigenous children to access their rights, the NDP is standing up for working families.”