Winnipeg, MB – Today the House rose with the Pallister government laying out a plan for deeper cuts to services and less support for Manitoba families.
The Premier started a new session with a Speech from the Throne that targeted health care and education for more cuts and a lackluster State of the Province address that failed to invest in economic growth. Instead, the Premier continues to pour money into the pockets of high-priced accounting firms and American consultants. The Premier is silent, however, when it comes to the most important issues facing our province.
Wab Kinew’s NDP has refused to allow the government to ignore Manitoba families and cut the services they depend on. This session, our Official Opposition has raised several key issues that illustrate the Pallister government’s cuts to core public services.
“While the Premier looks to cut and close, wait times at emergency rooms and hip and knee surgeries have gotten substantially worse,” said Kinew. “The reason is clear—his deep cuts and rushed consolidation plan is hurting our healthcare system and leading to worse outcomes for Manitoba families.”
The Pallister government has signaled full speed ahead on their plan to close three emergency rooms across Winnipeg and cut front line healthcare. They have launched a value-for-money review into CancerCare Manitoba that will look for ways to cut services for cancer patients. The Premier is barreling ahead with a plan to privatize emergency air ambulance for northern and rural communities, despite the protestations of doctors and health care experts.
Manitoba has been ravaged by a meth and opioid crisis that has torn apart families and damaged communities. The Premier has refused to take action or listen to families and addictions experts calling for more long term treatment beds across the province, safe consumption sites in Winnipeg and a detox centre in Brandon. The government refuses to acknowledge the validity of harm reduction initiatives and actually scrubbed a recommendation to implement a safe consumption site from their consultant’s report.
This session the Premier continued to take steps towards the privatization of Manitoba Hydro. After the entire board of directors resigned in protest, the Premier installed a new board and hired a former B.C. Premier and CEO to quarterback his privatization plan. Today, the Premier introduced a new bill that would allow for the province to privatize parts of Manitoba Hydro without requiring a referendum.
“The Premier is setting the stage for the privatization of Manitoba Hydro and it means massive payouts to their rich executive friends and higher electricity bills for regular families,” said Kinew. “Hydro was built to keep life affordable for Manitoba families. We demand the Premier respect that.”
Under this Premier’s leadership, Manitoba’s northern communities are facing mass job losses and economic instability as mines close. The Premier is refusing to take on big mining companies like HudBay Minerals who are abandoning workers in Flin Flon and Thompson.
The Premier has also ordered deep cuts to francophone services for our province’s FrancoManitoban communities. After removing the French Assistant Deputy Minister from the Bureau de L’education Francaise, the Premier has now cuts jobs for translation services and failed to ensure Francophone families have access to public services in their official language.
“From jobs to French language rights, Premier Pallister has taken a page out of Doug Ford’s playbook,” said Kinew. “He treats working families with callousness and indifference and has washed his hands in the face of serious pain for Manitoba’s communities.”
Kinew noted the Official Opposition has already launched a strong legislative agenda that builds on the last session’s victories. Kinew presented an alternative Throne Speech that called for an end to cuts to health care and education and committed to cheaper cell phones for Manitoba families. In the first few weeks of this session, the NDP brought forward bills that strengthen services for seniors in personal care homes and protected women seeking reproductive healthcare services free from harassment.