Manitoba Throne Speech Promises Focus on Jobs, Services for Families

November 19, 2012

Premier Greg Selinger’s NDP government delivered its annual Throne Speech today, outlining its priorities for the coming year. The speech promised a balanced approach that prioritizes jobs and services for working families over short term cuts to reduce the deficit.

The Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) welcomed the government’s statement of priorities, but raised concerns about the speech’s commitment to eliminate 600 provincial government positions over the next three years.

“We welcome an approach that focuses on jobs and services, but the province is sending a mixed message when it promises to create 75,000 jobs in one breath and then announces the elimination of 600 jobs in the next,” said MFL Executive Vice President Wendy Sol. “You don’t create jobs by cutting hundreds of good jobs.”

The MFL is also concerned about the impact of provincial government job cuts on front-line workers and the essential public services they deliver. It’s difficult to cut that many jobs without placing an excessive burden on the front-line workers who deliver public services. Service quality could suffer.

Other commitments in the speech included:

  • a new healthy workplaces initiative;
  • expansion of apprenticeship and skills training, to be kicked off with a Skills Summit;
  • a commitment to introduce accessibility rights legislation this year;
  • a plan to add 75,000 workers to Manitoba’s workforce by 2020;
  • enhancements to home care and an increase in personal care home beds;
  • a proposal to amalgamate smaller municipalities;
  • new parent-friendly school curriculum tools to help keep parents updated on what their children are learning; and
  • major invesments on roads, highways and bridges,

“The MFL welcomes the proposed healthy workplaces initiative,” said Sol. “And we were pleased to see that this initiative will be developed in consultation with workers and their unions.”

A key issue missing from the speech was tax fairness. With continuing global economic instability, continuing deficits and a squeeze on public services, the MFL believes it’s time that government asks corporations and upper income earners to pay their fair share of the tax burden. That kind of tax fairness would help the province manage the deficit without squeezing services that working families count on – like health care and education.