Busy Legislative Session Wraps Up
Dec 06, 2019
The Manitoba Legislature has wrapped up for another year and it was a busy one with a successful lobby day for members and meetings with the Premier, Ministers, and MLAs.
On November 28, President Gawronsky met with Premier Pallister and some front bench Cabinet Ministers to discuss a host of issues – from cuts in the civil service, and their effects on public services and front line staff, to new changes coming to rural health care delivery.
“The Premier promised this meeting in June, but the early election derailed those plans,” Gawronsky explained. “It was important for the Premier to make time to hear about the everyday concerns our members have, because as we all know, there is no shortage of concerns when it comes to protecting our public services.”
As well on this day, the MGEU organized a very well attended and publicized lobby day in which we called on government to lead a summit to find solutions on how to stop violent brazen retail thefts, including those happening at our liquor stores.
“I was so proud of our members and their courage to tell their stories about how these violent thefts are affecting them physically, mentally and emotionally,” Gawronsky said. “We have a real crisis on our hands, and knowing that this government will bring organizations from across our community together to brainstorm how we can curb these thefts, is absolutely good news for GOLICO members and the province as a whole.”
President Gawronsky was also on hand at the legislature on Monday night speaking to Bill 7, The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (Leave for Victims of Interpersonal Violence). She commended the government for extending the employment leave provisions available to victims of domestic violence to include all victims of interpersonal violence, including sexual violence and stalking. These leave provisions include five paid days.
Over a dozen pieces of legislation were introduced. Some were brand new, while others were carried over due to the early election the Premier called. A few that the MGEU is keeping an eye on, include:
1. The Pensions Benefit Act
This bill will amend a number of elements
of Manitoba’s Pensions Benefits Act. When changes to this Act were first proposed a few years ago, the MGEU pushed back. The
government had just released the findings of its Pension Commission
report. Contained in this report were
dangerous and concerning ideas that would have weakened pension security for
Manitobans. The union held a tele-meeting with members and sent a message to government to back off these
recommendations – and they did.
This new bill does raise some red flags. It includes a provision to allow workers to unlock pension funds and deplete their retirement income prematurely. In fact, under the new bill, workers aged 65 and over would be allowed to unlock their entire retirement income (100% of it), exposing them to tremendous risk in the private market place. The MGEU cautions members to talk to their financial institutions before making any decisions to tinker with their pension.
2. Public Service Act
The MGEU is very concerned about this legislation. The proposed new legislation will eliminate provisions in the Civil Service Act for the appointment of an arbitration board, and for the establishment of a Joint Council. These changes are a significant step backwards for our civil service members.
The bill would also establish a Public Service Commission, led by a public service commissioner, with a mandate that covers the broader public sector in areas such as the establishment of ethics standards. This would replace the Civil Service Commission and the Civil Service Commission Board.
3. Public Services Sustainability Act
While we continue to fight Bill 28, the Public Services Sustainability Act, in court, the government has re-introduced its amendments to the Act. One of the amendments would give more flexibility in setting the timing and duration of the sustainability period, during which public sector wages are frozen and then capped well below the cost of living, while also giving Treasure Board the sole role to decide what the sustainability period looks like.
“These amendments would not change the fact
that Bill 28 tramples on our members' constitutionally guaranteed right to free
and fair collective bargaining. We will continue to stand up for our members
through our court challenge of Bill 28,” Gawronsky