The NDP team worked hard to improve health and other services for families in the first session under Brian Pallister’s new government while challenging the premier and his ministers to reverse course on their regressive policies, NDP Interim Leader Flor Marcelino said today.
“Manitobans who thought they were voting for a government that had a plan have discovered they now have a government with no vision,” Marcelino said. “Since this government came into power, it has done little except launch reviews and cut services, but it clearly has no plan to create new jobs or grow the economy. In fact, its actions have hurt families and the economy.”
Marcelino noted the Pallister government:
- Refused to raise the minimum wage for hard-working, low-income Manitobans for the first time in 16 years while giving the premier and all cabinet ministers raises of thousands of dollars a year;
- Undermined the ability of workers to improve their workplaces by removing their right to automatic union certification when a majority of 65 per cent has signed union cards (Bill 7);
- Reneged on its guarantee to preserve frontline services by refusing to define frontline workers and by cutting 200 frontline jobs in the name of austerity;
- Watched communities across the North suffer while offering no concrete plan to help the town deal with the loss of jobs at the port and the reduction in its rail service;
- Refused to maintain Manitoba’s affordability advantage by setting the stage for auto insurance and electric bills to rise substantially;
- Slashed the seniors’ tax rebate, which puts hundreds of dollars into the hands of seniors;
- Sat back and watched while almost 12,000 full-time jobs disappeared across the province;
- Wasted money on politically motivated reviews of government departments and programs instead of investing in infrastructure and frontline services;
- Failed to make any investments in high-quality, licensed child-care spaces for families;
- Opened the door to privatizing medical services such as MRI and CT diagnostic scans;
- Signalled it is open to imposing health premiums on families;
- Refused to cover essential medication for women;
- Supported the proposed Bell takeover of MTS, which would reduce competition and
- Bickered with the federal government over paying their fair share of Freedom Road instead of following through on Manitoba’s duty to help Shoal Lake Band 40;
- Interfered in contract talks at the University of Manitoba, instead of allowing the two sides to bargain in good faith; and
- Wasted $4.3 million on an untendered study of Manitoba Hydro that covered old ground and made it clear the government is open to burning fossil fuels over creating clean, green hydroelectricity.
“Our NDP caucus has worked with Manitobans to put forward a strong legislative agenda that demonstrates our principles and strives to make Manitoba a safer, healthier province with a strong, growing economy,” Marcelino said.
During this session, the NDP has held the government to account and proposed an active legislative agenda of its own. The NDP called on the government to:
- Develop a harm-reduction strategy that takes action against the growing fentanyl crisis;
- Invest in affordable health care for women by covering the abortion pill under Pharmacare;
- Implement the traditional annual minimum wage raise;
- Protect our strong public health-care system by banning health premiums;
- Enact our Family Law Bill, which would have put the best interests of children first in cases of family dissolution;
- Enact our bill to address sexual violence and harassment at post-secondary institutions. Instead, the government voted it down and introduced a nearly identical bill of its own; and
- Update the provincial curriculum to include Canada’s past mistreatment of newcomers and celebrate our countries diversity through education.
“We were pleased to see all members of the House join us in calling on the federal government to uphold their commitment to equally fund First Nations by immediately raising funding levels for health care, education, housing and infrastructure on reserve,” Marcelino said.
The NDP also successfully passed an amendment to Bill 7 that introduces important language that protects employees from coercion, threat or intimidation on the part of the employer.
“We are disappointed to see that in Bill 7 the government has ignored the voices of working Manitobans and chosen an ideological agenda that hurts Manitoba’s working class,” Marcelino said. “This government should put away its partisan agenda and make sure Manitoba workers always come first.”