Let’s Talk about the Budget Manitobans Deserve
Finance Minister Cameron Friesen (left) will deliver his third budget today. The MGEU is calling on the government to take a responsible and balanced approach in this budget by protecting the public services we all rely on.
Mar 12, 2018
It’s Manitoba Budget Day, and Finance Minister Cameron Friesen will soon unveil his government’s blueprint for how the Province will invest our tax dollars in the coming year.
As far as the MGEU is concerned, our top priorities for
Budget 2018 are clear. Based on what we hear from our members and all
Manitobans through regular polling, as well as the feedback we receive each and every
day in the course of our union's work, we will continue our efforts to hold the
government to account when it comes to:
- protecting public services;
- halting health care cuts;
- keeping services public;
public pensions; and
- ensuring a balanced approach to budgeting over a reasonable timeframe.
Manitobans are already feeling the pressure of shortages, in
people and funding. If we don’t stem the tide of cuts, and stand up for public
services, we’ll lose them. We need to see a recommitment to providing supports
and investments in things that matter most to Manitobans: services and jobs.
Protecting Public Services
During the last provincial election, Manitobans were promised that the Pallister government would protect public services and the people who provide them. However, cuts to workers and services have only ramped up.
Since the 2016 election, we’ve seen a reduction of over 700 civil servants, and plans continue to cut another 500 jobs, for a total of 1,200 jobs in just two years. Workers like Conservation Officers that keep our parks safe. Environmental Officers who ensure we have safe drinking water. Social Workers who look after some of our most vulnerable kids. Snowplow operators who keep our roads cleared and safe. Maintaining these services requires a commitment to ensuring those who provide services have the resources to provide quality services to Manitobans.
At a time when the government is poised to introduce more tax cuts for wealthy Manitobans, we call on the Premier and Finance Minister to instead make investments that support important services and those who proudly provide them so that all Manitobans can benefit.
Halting Health Care Cuts
Recent changes in health care are concerning to many members who have questioned the government’s commitment to protect public services. Closing emergency rooms, Quick Care Clinics, the Mature Women’s Centre, and talk of cutting emergency health services in rural Manitoba are short-sighted and irresponsible.
Throughout this process, our members continue to express frustration because their voices haven’t been heard. Closures and cuts have left communities feeling vulnerable and without adequate access to services. We continue to call on the government to put a stop to the health care cuts, consult with health care workers, and the public who use the services.
Keeping Services Public
We believe that more needs to be done to support and invest in our public services ― but contracting out, privatizing, and outsourcing services are not the answer.
We now know that the government is seriously considering selling
public assets and privatizing or outsourcing a number of public services,
- Highway and Bridge maintenance,
- Diagnostic Testing.
We continue to call on the government to resist putting the quality of these services at risk and to keep public services public.
The decision to privatize part of the Home Care Program is of particular concern to Manitobans. We continue to urge the government to reconsider this irresponsible decision and provide adequate funding to the existing program to provide the services that Manitobans depend on.
Protect Public Pensions
All Manitobans deserve to retire with dignity and respect after their working years are over. This is why the potential changes to public pension plans currently being considered by the Manitoba Pension Commission are cause for concern. As we know from the two pension tele-meetings our union held last month, the continued stability of pension plans and the promise of a secure retirement are extremely important to MGEU members.
We continue to call on the government to re-commit to their pre-election promise to protect public pensions.
A Balanced Approach
Cutting services and jobs will further weaken Manitoba’s already under-performing economy.
A responsible way forward is one that ensures a balanced budget in a reasonable timeframe, while ensuring that services are there when needed.
It’s important to note that equalization payments from Ottawa are set to jump $217 million this year. The carbon tax slated for later this year is expected to raise another $260 million annually, and the province will also get a slice of tax revenue once recreational cannabis is legalized. Investing in the future by focusing on jobs and growing the economy will ensure that the budget is balanced over the eight-year period committed to in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Our five priorities reflect the perspective of those who provide crucial services to their fellow Manitobans day-in and day-out. They reflect the value that Manitobans tell us, time and time again, they place on reliable and effective public services in our province.
Manitobans deserve more than risky cuts, change for change sake, and empty pep talks about a leaner, meaner Civil Service where everyone will miraculously want to work.
We deserve a responsible, respectful and balanced approach to the public services we all rely on.