MGEU Members Looking for Priorities in Upcoming Throne Speech
MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky visited with Government Air Services in Thompson this past June.
Nov 17, 2017
Mark your calendars! Next Tuesday, November 21, is Throne Speech day in Manitoba. It’s arguably one of the most important days of the year for any provincial government. Throne Speeches give the public a clearer picture of what the government has determined to be a priority and ultimately what provincial initiatives we can expect to see in the next year.
This year there are a number of important items on the wish lists of many MGEU members.
First and foremost, they are looking for the government to start a meaningful dialogue with them. It’s time for the government to listen to public service providers about the services they work so hard to deliver every day. They don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for overpriced privatization consultants, such as KPMG, to make suggestions when the real experts are working on the front line every day.
It’s disrespectful to workers when sweeping changes are made without consultation. Take, for example, when part of home care was privatized and when the Victoria General Hospital Emergency was closed this year. In both situations, the government made a decision without speaking to patients or workers.
This brings us back to the Premier’s commitment to Manitobans when he campaigned for the province’s top job. He said he would protect and invest in public services and those that provide them. Well here we are, a little over a year and a half later and we’re still waiting for evidence to support that promise.
It’s not too late to reverse cuts in health care or in the civil service. The civil service has seen the workforce shrink by over 700 people in the past year alone. These cuts will mean fewer probation officers keeping communities safe, fewer water-testers to protect the environment, fewer social workers to keep vulnerable children safe, and fewer equipment operators to clear snow off our highways. These are vital public services and we need to see the government invest in them, not cut them.
Health care is, and always will be, a top priority for Manitobans. And right now in rural Manitoba, that’s top of mind. The government has yet to talk about how health care reforms will affect rural hospitals, but we do know they plan to close 23 EMS stations while they are short over 400 paramedics. And just this week a task force called to close four emergency rooms in Westman. This sounds backwards to me. We need to see access to health care and EMS response times improved outside the perimeter, not degraded further.
And when it comes to health care, those in the Parkland are quickly reminded of the MRI machine that has yet to make its way to Dauphin. This, despite the fact the building has been built and staff are ready to go. We’re hoping to see a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to get this MRI up and running to eliminate long travel costs and wait times for patients.
We’re also looking for the government to shed more light on the changes they have coming to protecting children in care. Our CFS workers are dealing with more children every day that are coming to them with more complex issues. They need more supports, not less; so we’ll be watching for solid commitments and action on this issue.
Our members in government air services have seen drastic cuts that are leaving them wondering just how soon the services they provide may be privatized. They deliver vital public services and it’s hard to imagine how the average Manitoban will benefit from turning our water bombers, used to fight forest fires, or air ambulances, which deliver emergent care to northern Manitobans, into money-making schemes for private corporations.
Manitobans want to see a government whose priorities match their promises. Public services are suffering from the pressure of shortages, both in people and funding. Cuts and privatization are not the answer, and they were not this government’s commitment during the last election.
Protecting front-line services and the people who provide them was the government’s promise. Like most Manitobans, MGEU members believe we have worked hard, together, to build a system of high-quality public services and we can’t afford to throw them away on schemes that put people at risk. If we don’t stand up for the public services we rely on now, they’ll be gone and we’ll never get them back.