Manitoba Federation of Labour responds to provincial budget

April 2, 2024

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Kinew government’s 2024/25 Budget:

With their first budget, we are glad to see the new provincial government focus on building up our public services, particularly health care, after years of cuts and neglect under Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson.

The previous PC government left Manitoba’s public services in dire straits, and we know that repairing the damage from the PC years will take more than one budget. But this budget’s investments towards hiring 1,000 new health care workers will make a real difference.

However, attracting new health care staff will be made more difficult by our province’s severe shortage of child care spaces. While this budget does improve child care affordability for working families who are lucky enough to have a spot, much more needs to be done to address our province’s massive shortfall of child care spaces. The government needs to focus on training early childhood educators and paying them a fair wage, to have any real hope of being able to open the 20,000 additional child care spaces promised under the federal agreement.

It is refreshing to hear that this government recognizes the important role that unions play in helping workers get bigger paycheques, better benefits, and job security. Re-balancing our province’s labour relations, including new resources for the Labour Board, will be good for working families following the attacks on unions and working people by the previous PC government. But the MFL is disappointed that this budget does not include funding to hire more safety and health officers, which is something that the NDP committed to during the election campaign. After years of cutbacks under the PCs, we would have liked to see the new government prioritize workplace safety and health.

This budget’s increased funding for colleges, universities and apprenticeship will help put young people on a path to building their careers here at home with good, family supporting jobs. Other positives include increased funding for social and affordable housing, and municipal infrastructure and services after years of neglect. And we are also pleased to see the Kinew government taking steps to reduce unnecessary tax breaks for the wealthiest Manitobans.