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March 28, 2019

MFL News

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck on planned minimum wage increase

No one should work full-time and live in poverty. But that is exactly what the Pallister government is forcing thousands of workers to do, by keeping our minimum wage as a poverty wage.

Contrary to the myths, most minimum wage workers are adults, and the majority are women. Thousands of families are forced to make tough choices between paying the rent and buying groceries because our minimum wage isn’t enough to allow people to make ends meet, even with a full-time job.

- Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour

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March 12, 2019

Health & Safety

Manitoba Federation of Labour Statement on Bill 12: The Workplace Safety and Health Amendment Act

Yesterday, the Pallister government introduced Bill 12. In introducing these proposed changes to the Workplace Safety and Health Act, they focused on the fact that the bill would double the maximum amount for penalties for offenses.

But what they neglected to say was that they have consistently declined to apply the maximum penalties at their current, lower, levels, so we have no reason to believe they would enforce higher maximums. Higher penalties can only serve as a deterrent if government is willing to invest the needed resources into enforcement, and follow through with stiff penalties on offenders – so far, this government has failed to do either. 

The reason they wanted to focus on this yesterday was to mask the other bad elements of the bill.

After receiving reports from the now-eliminated Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health, as well as from stakeholders in labour, business, health and other areas, the Pallister government has elected to ignore the advice it received and barrel ahead with its own agenda of putting workers’ safety last.

Unfortunately, this bill makes the following changes that will weaken the rules that protect workers’ safety and health on the job:

  • It eliminates the important position of Chief Prevention Officer, which was established to be an independent public watch dog to ensure continuous progress and accountability on workplace health and safety;
  • It gives heavy-handed powers to government to dismiss workers’ health and safety appeals without proper due process or a hearing at the Manitoba Labour Board; and
  • It imposes a new arbitrary time limit on workers’ ability to defend themselves in cases where workers face unfair retaliation from their employers for sticking-up for their health and safety rights.

Weakening the safety and health rules that protect workers on the job is a concerning trend for the Pallister government, and this bill comes on the heels of:

  • The deep cuts they have made to workplace safety and health and the elimination of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health;
  • Their weakening of child labour laws by setting the minimum working age at 13, meaning kids can get permits to work a full-year younger than kids in Ontario and Saskatchewan can;and
  • Their decision to lower the standards for hearing testing on the job, even though hearing loss is one of the most common workplace injuries.

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March 12, 2019

MFL News

Manitoba Federation of Labour Statement on Pallister Government's Closure of the Manitoba Conciliation and Mediation Branch

In introducing Bill 18: The Labour Relations Amendment Act, the Pallister Government is making the foolish decision to shut down a well-known and trusted service of mediation experts that has provided decades of advice to unions and employers when labour negotiations faced challenges. 

When the Pallister Government asked if they should keep this trusted service, both business and labour advocated to do so. We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Pallister Government has once again made the decision to go it alone, without listening to anyone but themselves.

We fear that the shutdown of this service could lead to more labour disruptions, including strikes and lockouts, which no one wants. This decision is truly a penny-wise, pound-foolish.

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March 4, 2019

MFL News

Pallister government refuses to commit to a living wage

MFL President Kevin Rebeck had this to say in response to the Pallister government's poverty reduction strategy:

Today the Pallister government finally released its long-delayed poverty reduction plan. We are disappointed that there is no commitment to make Manitoba’s minimum wage a living wage at $15-an-hour. No one should work full-time and still have to live in poverty, but the Pallister government is forcing thousands of workers, most of them adults and women, to do so by keeping our minimum wage at poverty wage levels.

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December 6, 2018

MFL News


The Manitoba Federation of Labour has launched a new social media campaign to raise awareness about the rights Manitoba workers have to take paid leave from work when experiencing domestic violence, MFL President Kevin Rebeck announced today. 

“Domestic violence affects too many Manitobans, and we’re finding that many workers do not know that they have the right to take paid leave from work to get the help they need,” said Rebeck. “So we’re doing our part to raise awareness about this important right workers have in Manitoba.”

One in three working Canadians have experienced domestic violence. Due to changes to provincial legislation made in 2016, any Manitoban who is experiencing domestic violence now has the right to take paid leave from work and get help, without fear of losing their job.

Domestic violence employment leave can be used for one or more of the following purposes:

  • to seek medical attention for the worker or her/his children related to domestic violence;
  • to obtain services from a victim services organization (e.g. abuse shelter);
  • to obtain psychological or other professional counselling;
  • to relocate (either temporarily or permanently);
  • to get help from law enforcement or to seek legal assistance (including preparing for, or participating in, related civil or criminal proceedings); or
  • for other purposes that may be prescribed in Regulation.

“The Manitoba Federation of Labour Women’s Committee, along with Manitoba’s labour movement, pushed hard to make this right a reality,” said Deb Jones, Co-Chair of the MFL Women’s Committee. “We wanted to time the launch of this awareness campaign with the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre because women still face appalling levels of violence, often at the hands of intimate partners.”

To find out more about the right to paid leave from work when experiencing domestic violence, Manitobans can visit

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December 3, 2018

Health & Safety


Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Pallister government’s online Young Worker Readiness Certificate Course:

The Pallister government is touting the new online Young Worker Readiness Certificate Course without mentioning that they have gone against the recommendations of both business and labour to set the safe working age at 14, as it is in both Saskatchewan and Ontario. 

Instead, they have set a lower age of 13, meaning that Manitoba has weaker standards when it comes to child labour than either of our neighbouring provinces.

Clearly, the Pallister government is only interesting in harmonizing with other provinces when they can race to the bottom on health and safety, not when harmonizing with our neighbours means setting a higher standard when it comes to the safety our province’s very young, and vulnerable, workers.

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November 23, 2018


Statement by President Rebeck on Liberal government's back-to-work legislation

The Manitoba Federation of Labour fully supports Canada’s postal workers and their right to strike. By legislating them back-to-work, the Trudeau Liberals are following in Stephen Harper’s footsteps and demonstrating that at the end of the day, they are on the side of the employer and not working people.

Postal workers have been on rotating strikes to demand equal pay and safer workplaces. But the Trudeau government is choosing to support management instead of allowing for a free and fair collective bargaining process. 

The right to collective bargaining is a Charter right, but this right is under attack by the federal government’s actions. Prime Minister Trudeau and his Liberals are no better than Stephen Harper when it comes to standing up for workers’ rights.

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November 23, 2018

MFL News Health & Safety


Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Pallister government’s announced changes to The Workplace Safety and Health Regulation:

All workers deserve to be safe on the job. But the Pallister government announced today that it is continuing its attacks on Manitoba workers by weakening workplace health and safety rules that protect against hearing loss.  

These changes will delay testing by six months and reduce testing frequency. These changes will weaken protections for Manitobans whose work exposes them to noise that can cause hearing loss. They will also make it much more difficult for workers to exercise their right to claim workers compensation for work-related hearing injuries.

This announcement follows the Pallister government’s cuts to workplace health and safety and their elimination of the Minister’s Advisory Council on health and safety.

                                                                                                                                                      – 30 –



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November 20, 2018

MFL News


Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Pallister government’s 2018 Throne Speech:

This Throne Speech is a disappointment for working families in our province. These families are looking for support to make life more affordable and improve health care. 

The Pallister government has no jobs plan, and today’s speech failed to deliver a plan to help young Manitobans build their futures here at home. 

At a time when our economy is expected to slow down, there is no commitment to restore the cuts made to infrastructure funding, and the government is moving ahead with its ideological agenda to make it harder for Manitobans to get good jobs by banning the use of Project Labour Agreements on public infrastructure projects. 

The Pallister government is also underfunding the education system while increasing post-secondary tuition fees for working families. 

Of serious concern, today’s speech suggests the Pallister government is moving toward privatization of Manitoba’s non-profit child care sector. Working families are in critical need of affordable, safe and accessible child care to help them get back to work or school – higher fees and private profits are not the answer to Manitoba’s child care crisis. 

Despite the serious concerns of Manitobans about losing health care services they count on, the Pallister government is forging ahead and closing emergency rooms and making other health care cuts instead of listening to the advice of health care professionals. 

Families will continue to feel the pinch of this government’s failure to build personal care home beds that their elderly loved ones need now. 

One of the only positives in this speech is the increased support for victims of domestic violence. We hope that the increase in resources includes an awareness campaign to let Manitoba workers know that they have the right to take up to five days off from work with pay to get help when experiencing domestic violence.


                                                                                                                                                   – 30 –


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October 1, 2018


Along with key gains in the USMCA, Canada’s unions raise concern

-Canadian Labour Congress

Canada’s unions say the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) represents some points of progress, but are raising concern over protections for some Canadian workers.

“Workers across the country will be happy to learn that NAFTA’s Chapter 11 has finally been eliminated from this trade agreement,” said Canadian Labour Congress President, Hassan Yussuff. “Decades of unfairness have cost Canada over $300 million in penalties and fees and made it clear that the investor-state dispute settlement clause was working against our national interest.”

Canada’s unions are also pleased to see the side agreements on labour moved into the main agreement, now subject to a state-to-state dispute resolution process. “The USMCA gets it right on labour provisions, including provisions to protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of gender,” said Yussuff.

Protections for the Canadian auto industry, including exemptions from tariffs and labour value requirements, were welcomed. The agreement also maintains exemptions for cultural industries and expands these to include digital industries.

Intellectual property provisions will be strengthened under this new agreement, extending pharmaceutical drug patent protection to 10 years. “Drug costs will rise as a result of this deal. Now more than ever, Canada needs a universal, single-payer prescription drug program to cancel out the impact of mounting costs on Canadian families,” said Yussuff.

Access to Canadian dairy was a focus through the negotiations. Under the new USMCA, US dairy producers will have access to 3.59% of Canada’s domestic milk market. “The federal government must take necessary measures and provide compensation to workers who will be negatively impacted by these concessions. Canada’s unions are concerned and seeking more details on provisions around egg and poultry exports and imports,” said Yussuff.

Yussuff expressed disappointment that the elimination of US tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products was not part of the new agreement. “The illegal steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the US earlier this year should have been lifted with this agreement, and I urge the Canadian government to redouble its efforts to eliminate these tariffs,” he said.

Canada’s unions will be reviewing the agreement more closely in the coming days and will continue to monitor ongoing discussions, as full details of the agreement have not yet been made public.

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