June 23, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB – After months of using a global pandemic as cover for a political plan to order thousands of layoffs and wage cuts the Pallister government is attempting to avoid public scrutiny by promising a so-called fiscal update outside of the Legislature.
“Mr. Pallister has spent the last three months firing front line workers and cutting their wages, while refusing to face questions about his cuts in the Legislature,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Now he’s trying to avoid accountability by releasing a flimsy, so-called fiscal update without public scrutiny or independent oversight. The Premier is trying to hide the truth—that his job cuts are unnecessary, his justifications for them are baseless and his actions are hurting Manitoba’s ability to recover from an economic recession.”
Kinew noted the Premier has misled the public regarding the basis for his own pandemic cuts in the past.
In April the Premier misrepresented a CIBC chart in order to falsely claim Manitoba’s debt was the highest in the country. The chart was used as part of a Treasury Board presentation made to Crown corporations, universities and other government agencies to direct job cuts. What’s more the document asserted Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries would be ‘cash flow negative’ this year, but the Pallister Government had never bothered to ask the Crown corporation if that was true. In fact, it is not.
The Pallister government also announced they would make $860 million in budget cuts across universities, schools, municipalities, non-profits and government departments. It is the largest single-day budget cut announced in Manitoba history. The announcement led to layoffs across the public sector. Pallister’s Finance Minister claimed the cuts were needed to respond to the pandemic, but the NDP revealed the Conservative’s 2019 election platform outlines a plan to find nearly $860 million in cuts.
“If the Premier was confident in his fiscal update, he would recall the Legislature so that his government can be questioned on it,” said Kinew. “Mr. Pallister must recall the Legislature immediately and present his update in the House so that it can be scrutinized by the public.”
Under the Pallister government, the Manitoba Legislature has barely sat for 20 days this year. The House has sat just four times since a global pandemic was declared and several states of emergency were implemented in Manitoba. -