MGEU members live and work throughout the province, delivering a wide variety of vital public services to Manitobans. Many work directly for the Province of Manitoba, while others work in crown corporations, universities and colleges, health care facilities, social service agencies, and arts and cultural organizations.
Because the union represents such a wide variety of Manitobans, party platforms and election issues often have a direct impact on MGEU members. That is why, before each provincial general election, the union develops a questionnaire which allows each of the three main political parties to respond to important issues concerning the union’s members.
The responses from each leader below have been compiled to help MGEU members learn more about each party’s stance on issues of importance to provincial employees.
Ask your candidates questions about these issues, or others that are important to you, in the coming election – and remember to cast your ballot on Tuesday, April 19, 2016.
New Democratic Party
Progressive Conservative Party
1: Manitoba civil service employees continue to report they are stretched thin in performing their duties, with high caseloads or workloads far beyond what is reasonable, and jobs being eliminated through attrition. Services for Manitobans suffer as a result. Does your party plan to cut civil service jobs if you are elected? Will you contract out these services? Please be as specific as possible.
The Manitoba Liberal Party under Rana Bokhari is committed to growing the economy and creating more opportunity within the civil service. We believe through consultation we will empower the civil service to seek solutions to issues they are best positioned to tackle. If we are to have a strong civil service into the future, we must mentor the next generation of professionals before retirement of the baby boomers who will take years of knowledge with them. We must have a sound succession plan.
We are committed to maintaining the critical public services Manitoba families rely on, because we understand that reckless cuts put families, public sector jobs and the economy at risk. We will not cut jobs, unlike other political parties who are committing to reckless cuts and corporate giveaways, jeopardizing jobs and public services. Our government recently renewed a five-year contract with the MGEU with a no-layoff clause and a strong commitment to support our public sector workforce.
Manitoba needs a government that believes front line public servants and the services they provide make a positive difference in people’s lives. Asking them to do more and more with less and less while government adds to upper levels of the bureaucracy makes no sense. Those on the front lines need support from the top, not interference by the top. Front line workers’ ideas can lead to better service delivery. A new Progressive Conservative government will be a reliable and visionary partner for Manitobans by pledging to protect front line services and the jobs of the workers who deliver those services.
2: There are examples in Canada where governments have made changes to public pension plans that have harmed families and put the retirements of thousands of working people in jeopardy. Does your party, if elected, intend to make changes to any of Manitoba’s public pension plans and if so, in what ways?
We will strengthen public pensions for working Manitobans so they can enjoy their hard-earned retirement. We have consistently called on the federal government to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
We think a modest and phased-in expansion of the CPP is the best way to improve the retirement incomes of hardworking Manitoba families because of its portability, investment returns and low management costs. It can also be integrated into workplace pension plans. Our government implemented the first pension plan in Manitoba for early learning and child care workers and has addressed pension liabilities ignored by previous Conservative governments.
No. Rather, a Progressive Conservative government would provide real tax relief for low, middle and fixed-income Manitobans by raising the Basic Personal Exemption to lower the income tax burden, eliminating hidden tax increases known as ‘bracket creep’ and lowering the PST within our first term.
We are the only party committed to lowering the PST back down to 7%, which helps all families. A lower PST will put more money back in the pockets of all Manitobans. We believe that the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a proven and reliable way to assist seniors financially, and we will continue to support a strong and robust CPP.
Absolutely not. A pension is a big determining factor when employees choose a career and changing the rules years after the fact is unthinkable.
3: Overcrowding in Manitoba jails continues to be a problem that puts the health and safety of both inmates and correctional officers at risk. How would your government address the overcrowding issue within the corrections system?
We are well aware that under the NDP, our correctional facilities are continually running at over capacity putting both inmates and our hard working correctional officers at unnecessary risk. The NDP have promised to speed up the court system, reduce recidivism, and build a new correctional facility in Dauphin, but they have failed to deliver on any of those promises.
A new PC government will work to build teams that identify and solve problems, eliminate wasteful spending and refocus resources to improve public services. We are aware of the challenges we face, and we look forward to working with you to effectively address them.
We are committed to the concept of restorative justice and will work to ensure only those who must be jailed are. We have far too many low-risk offenders in jail and we must to better.
Jail capacity continues to be a problem across the country. We know we need to work with public sector workers like correction officers to ensure that their workplaces are safe. We will also build on our Restorative Justice Strategy, which will reduce inmate populations in institutions, and we will continue to implement alternative ways of preventing crime, including investing in recreation, education and mental health programming.
Another essential part of tackling crime is tackling the root causes of crime. Our plan takes a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction by investing in social and affordable housing, more child care spaces, robust income supports, and more training.
4: Child protection workers have been saddled with dangerously high caseloads and fewer resources. If elected, what would your government do to help alleviate this problem and bring caseloads to a manageable level?
Safety of the child must come first, but we also must look at the need for children to stay in their communities and with family members, if their primary caregiver is not an option. We must strike a balance that is not knee-jerk apprehension strategy and focus on community solutions. Our mental health strategy and poverty reduction strategy will play a role in how families cope and in the long-run will lead to fewer problems in the home.
Manitoba social workers do great work supporting families each and every day. Staffing resources for child welfare have increased since Manitoba and Canada implemented a new funding model in 2010. For off-reserve services, the funding model has been reviewed annually and adjustments made for agencies experiencing increased caseloads.
Manitoba has started to see the benefits of the prevention approach to child welfare. We will continue to work with the Authorities and the Government of Canada to examine ways to increase prevention programming to continue reducing the number of children in care.
Unfortunately, under the NDP the number of kids in Manitoba's care has jumped 55 per cent since 2006. This has been a staggering failure on their part. The province has one of the highest child apprehension rates in Canada and seizes an average of one newborn baby a day. We will provide better communications between agencies and improved support for families with a focus on first-place prevention rather than just last-step intervention. A new PC government will work as a team with all stakeholders to address this issue by strengthening families and customary care, child advocacy, and by taking a more proactive approach to mental health, addictions and family services.
5: Privatization of public assets or Crown agencies is an issue that directly affects all Manitobans and, most directly, thousands of MGEU members. If elected, would your government privatize, restructure, or contract out public assets and services like Manitoba Public Insurance, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, Manitoba Hydro or other provincial corporations/operations? Please be as specific as possible.
Our party believes in investing in all our Crown corporations, agencies and assets and keeping them public. Unlike the Conservatives, who privatized our public telephone system in the 1990s, we will not privatize any of our crowns. Unlike the Liberals, who will privatize liquor, we will be investing in a new Liquor and Lotteries headquarters downtown, bringing 400 jobs to the downtown.
The Progressive Conservatives have made it very clear that we will keep public services public. Manitoba Hydro belongs to all Manitobans and it will remain a full public agency.
We will not be privatizing any Crowns, but will be privatizing the retail function of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries on the liquor side, in exactly the same way that MPI now is a distributor of services and private insurance companies sell it. This will create opportunity for current Liquor Mart employees to move into the Distribution, supply management and enforcement area of the Crown. No current employee, who wants to retain their job with the Crown, will be laid off, and they will retain their salary, benefits and pension. We have no interest in any other changes to the structure of our Crowns.
6: Does your party support keeping Manitoba’s home care program universal and public? Will your party oppose the expansion of self managed care, which places a greater burden on patients and their families to find and manage their own care?
The Progressive Conservative party agrees that the health care system is in crisis. Beginning to address this issue starts with focusing our efforts on the fundamental barriers to care for all Manitobans.
Our seniors built this province. It is long past time to embrace compassion and caring once more as a core value for government - for seniors and the sick, for children and families in poverty. For those who need our helping hands and those who just need a hand up at this time in their lives. We will accelerate construction of new personal care homes to reduce the NDP-created backlog of Manitobans waiting to receive placement.
Our front-line health care providers, including home care workers, work hard in a challenging environment to deliver critical services to Manitoba families. These front-line providers and the Manitobans who rely on them are being failed by a lack of leadership and the judgement necessary at the highest levels to set targets to support patient-first health care, increase efficiency and allocate the resources necessary for better outcomes.
The Manitoba Liberal Party believes a strong public homecare system is the key to combating rising healthcare costs. Manitobans want to stay in their homes for as long as possible and we will support this because it is more cost-effective and the right thing to do.
Our government supports a universal and public home care system, unlike the Filmon Conservatives, who tried to privatize the system when they were in government. Not only do we believe in a universal and public home care system, we also believe that there are opportunities to improve the quality of our public system. We commissioned the Manitoba Home Care Leadership Team to consult with stakeholders to present recommendations for improvements to the system.
In negotiations with the federal government around a new Health Accord, we will also take a strong position to advocate for home care programs.
7: Does your party support self-regulation for paramedics, and would you commit to achieving this within the first two years of your mandate?
Yes, and we will work to make that happen as soon as possible, knowing timelines don’t always line up as neatly as one would like.
Our first responders make a huge difference for Manitobans each and every day. We understand that paramedics are eager to move forward with self-regulation. This has been and will continue to be an independent, non-partisan process. The Health Professions Advisory Council has made a recommendation that the paramedic profession proceed to regulation after there is support among Manitoba paramedics for self-regulation. That’s why we have asked the Health Professions Advisory Council to advise on how to move forward with a dialogue that leads to consensus.
The Progressive Conservatives have repeatedly raised this issue in the Manitoba Legislature. Manitoba paramedics should be designated as health professionals with self-regulation under provincial legislation. The change under the Regulated Health Professions Act is necessary to ensure the highest standards in paramedical care for patients. It’s time to allow the important, life-saving work of Manitoba’s paramedics to be done independently under their own regulatory college. The PCs are committed to making that change in the interests of safety for patients.
8: Colleges across Manitoba are an important training ground relied upon to produce the skilled and qualified workers Manitoba needs to succeed in the global economy. Will your party commit to increasing operating grants for post-secondary institutions at or above the rate of inflation?
New Democrats know getting more people access to a better education and in-demand skills will help create a workforce that’s ready for the good jobs our economy is creating.
We will continue to make strategic investments that help young people get good jobs, while keeping post-secondary education affordable. We have doubled funding for universities and colleges, and we will continue to provide stable and predictable funding to post-secondary institutions, which suffered after years of Conservative cuts. We also commit to renew our campuses with new programs and quality facilities.
Education is the key to realizing our potential. This NDP government spends more on education than ever before, yet Manitoba ranks last in the country for results in reading, math, and science. This is unacceptable to students, parents, teachers, and families. We must provide a stronger way up for Manitoba’s children by improving our education results, focusing on reading at the critical early ages, empowering teachers to grade and guide students, and empowering parents to engage with schools by ensuring they know more about what is occurring in those schools.
The Progressive Conservative Party believes strongly in post-secondary education and we are committed to reducing barriers and ensuring Manitobans who wish to pursue advanced education have the opportunity to do so.
Education will be the key to the success of our province and keeping pace is great, but getting ahead is better. We can commit to rate of inflation increases to funding, and hope to do better as we get our fiscal house in order.
9: Social impact bonds allow the private sector to fund social services at a profit. If you are elected, would your government fund and deliver social services using social impact bonds?
The Progressive Conservative Party believes Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) can improve outcomes of front line social services through innovative financing options for non-profit groups in Manitoba. SIBs allow government to target innovative preventative services to improve social outcomes. They build on current social services programming and do not replace it.
Absolutely not. These are short-sighted initiatives that tend to have companies bidding on the low-hanging fruit and ignoring the more challenging issues. We see no value in this at all and can’t understand why the Conservatives are interested in going this route.
Manitoba strongly supports prevention and innovation in social service delivery to help Manitobans get good value for their money. However, we reject privatization of social services through social impact bonds that will make profits from social services and take money out of our communities. We will continue to invest in preventive programs with proven results rather than privatizing services or paying out profits to wealthy investors. We will continue to take a comprehensive approach to poverty reduction with our plan that invests in social and affordable housing, more child care spaces, robust income supports, and more training.
10: The Manitoba Developmental Centre (MDC) in Portage la Prairie provides important services to people with intellectual disabilities. It is one of the region’s largest employers and is the source for good jobs that support the local economy. What is your plan, if elected, to ensure MDC remains open?
We support the good work of the Manitoba Development Centre and will continue to fund it. We think centres of excellence should not focus only on Winnipeg and think this model has much to offer.
We value the work of the staff at the Manitoba Developmental Centre (MDC). We recognize the importance of this service and the jobs it has provided to families in Portage la Prairie and the surrounding communities. Any further work to secure the best and most appropriate care for residents currently at MDC will be done in full consultation with the MGEU and in cooperation with residents, families, and the City of Portage. Where appropriate, we will ensure we put in supports and staffing for community living, while we also recognize that some residents may require supports such as long-term personal care in a comparable facility.
Under the NDP, Manitoba is experiencing job losses not growth. Manitoba have lost 10,500 full time jobs compared to this time last year while Ontario gained over 66,400 new full time jobs. The Selinger NDP’s fiscal mismanagement saw Manitoba’s first credit downgrade in 30 years – this means Manitobans will be paying more and getting less. Higher NDP taxes continue to hurt economic growth and business investment that creates jobs. Since Greg Selinger became Premier, we have been last in the country in average weekly wage growth in Canada. If we had only managed to keep pace with other provinces, Manitobans would have seen an average income increase of $2,600 a year.
A new Progressive Conservative government will continue to work to strengthen and grow our economy and ensure we attract investment and provide opportunity and quality employment for all Manitobans.
11: Government revenues generated through taxation fund critical public services that all Manitobans depend on. If elected, would your party increase taxes on large corporations and the wealthy or make other tax adjustments? If you are proposing tax cuts, how would lost revenue be made up to ensure public services are maintained for Manitobans?
Unlike the other political parties, we will be giving low- and middle-income working Manitobans a tax break to help them keep a little more money in their pockets. We will introduce new personal income tax reductions to put millions of dollars back into the hands of working and middle-class Manitobans. This measure will be fully offset by the introduction of a new personal income tax rate, applied to the wealthiest 1.9% of Manitobans.
What we have today in Manitoba is broken trust in a broken government. The Selinger NDP government has broken promise after promise. First it lost its integrity and now it has lost its way. This premier looked Manitobans in the eye during the last election and vowed he would not raise the PST. He then did the exact opposite and took $1 billion from Manitoba families. First, he broke his promise not to raise the PST. Then, he and his NDP MLAs took away your right to vote on it.
A new PC Government will roll back the NDP PST tax hike to 7% in our first term and reduce the tax burden on all Manitoban families while protecting front line services and the jobs of the workers who deliver those services.
The Manitoba Liberal Party is committed to putting a little more money in the pockets of Manitobans, but will not be rushing to reduce the PST from 8 to 7 percent. We will chip away at the budget deficit and when it is balanced we will work to reduce the payroll tax over the course of about 10 years beginning with post secondary institutions. To have more money for services we must grow the tax-base and not simply continue to rely on the current tax-base.