Feb 10, 2017
At a meeting on January 5th, the Minister of Finance and officials invited Manitoba’s public sector unions to participate in what was referred to as a Fiscal Working Group with a mandate to explore solutions to returning the province’s budget to balance.
In the lead-up to the meeting, we put forward several questions to the Minister to better understand the government’s assumptions and fiscal outlook. The Pallister government’s 2016 budget was the first in many years to not include a five-year fiscal outlook, which would include assumptions and projections for key economic indicators.
On February 9th, one day prior to the first meeting of the Fiscal Working Group, government officials emailed the Manitoba Federation of Labour a letter (dated February 8th) to indicate that the Fiscal Working Group is no longer intended to consider options to improve the government’s fiscal situation, but rather, would focus only on the government’s narrow legislative intentions, which may include reduced worked weeks, predetermined wage settlements, changes to pensions and the re-opening of collective agreements.
By denying basic financial information and changing the parameters of any conversations with government, the Premier and Minister of Finance are preventing labour from participating in a meaningful consultation.
As Manitoba’s public sector unions, we want to work constructively with the province to find a balanced approach – that includes returning to balance over an eight-year period, as committed in the budget – without doing irreparable harm to our schools, hospitals and other public services.
But it seems Premier Pallister is more focused on cuts to public services and reopening signed contracts than protecting those services and the people who deliver them.
For more information, please contact:
The Manitoba Federation of Labour at 204-947-1400