May 20, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB—The Pallister government has been misleading Manitobans by claiming its decision to cut $860 million from front line services and salaries is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic when in fact it has been part of the Conservative agenda since the last election campaign.
“In this time of crisis, Manitobans are looking for a leader who will stand up and fight to protect jobs. Instead, this Premier and his government are forcing layoffs and pay cuts,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “The Premier is falsely justifying these cuts by blaming the pandemic, but the truth is these cuts were predetermined. They’ve been part of his plan all along. Manitobans don’t deserve a leader that aggressively pursues his own political agenda at the expense of working families. The Premier should stop his cuts and admit his layoffs have planned all along.”
The Conservative’s 2019 platform document outlines a plan to find $856 million in cost savings. In April, during a health care pandemic, Pallister’s Finance Minister announced his government will be making $860 million in budget cuts across universities, schools, municipalities, non-profits and government departments. The announcement has led to thousands of layoffs across the public sector, including 700 jobs cut at Hydro alone. The Pallister government has also announced it intends to force more than 6,000 civil servants to take wage cuts.
On Wednesday the NDP introduced an Opposition Day Motion urging the Public Utilities Board to hold an inquiry into the government’s directive to layoff 700 workers at Manitoba Hydro and assess the risks the cuts will impose on the Crown utility. Mr. Kinew sent a letter to the Chair of the PUB making a similar request last week. The Public Utilities Board Act specifies the Board may investigate a matter upon receiving a complaint in writing or via request of the Legislature. The Board responded to Kinew’s letter, confirming is able to hold a hearing if the Opposition Day Motion were to pass in the Chamber.
“This is the Conservatives’ opportunity to be accountable and transparent to the hundreds of workers they are laying off. They can vote in favour of our Motion and trigger a public inquiry into the job cuts at Hydro, or they can continue to hide from Manitobans. Mr. Pallister’s choice should be clear,” Kinew said.