Mandate letters from the Pallister government to Crown Corporations released yesterday show that the government is looking for all Crowns to cut costs, some to become self-sufficient, and in the case of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, increase privatization.

The marching orders from Crown Services Minister Colleen Mayer to Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries tells the Crown Corporation to generate more profit for government coffers by finding ways to cut its alcohol purchasing costs. The mandate letter also directs MLL to "Engage with the private sector to identify opportunities for increased participation in the liquor retail and distribution sectors.”

MGEU President, Michelle Gawronsky responded today by saying, “it’s strange that on the one hand, the government is asking MLL to generate more profit, while on the other hand taking away the corporation’s ability to do that by sending more profit to private retailers. It’s very disappointing to see this government looking at even more privatization when we know they told Manitobans during the election campaign that they were focused on keeping public services public.”

Gawronsky said that Manitoba’s public liquor sales system is one of the best in the country at balancing price and selection with social responsibility.

“Our system is one of the best at ensuring alcohol doesn’t end up in the hands of minors or those already intoxicated.  At the same time, revenue generated from our Liquor Marts is invested back into our public services like health care and education. Privatizing more liquor sales is a step backwards. We need this government to focus on public safety, while generating funds for our services. That means keeping liquor public.”

Government Looking to Reduce Manitoba Centennial Centre Funding

Another letter from the Minister directed to the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corp. – which operates several significant arts and cultural properties in Winnipeg, including the Manitoba Museum, Centennial Concert Hall, and Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre – directs the Crown corporation to work with her department to become self-sufficient within five years.

The corporation received $2.5 million in provincial operating grants last year and Gawronsky questions why the government would talk about defunding this cultural hub while it works to boost tourism in the province.

“It doesn’t make any sense. These are some of our province’s biggest attractions. Why would the government talk about taking away funding, especially when we know that the Centennial Centre is in the middle of a plan to renew and expand? The government should be investing in these cultural institutions, not cutting.”

Government says Brokers Must be Involved in MPI’s Online insurance Plans

Meanwhile, the mandate letter to Manitoba Public Insurance says that private insurance brokers must be involved in MPI’s plan to provide online insurance renewal options.

Media reports in March said that the province was lobbying on behalf of private insurance brokers who were worried that MPI’s proposed online services would hurt their business.

The mandate letter released yesterday directs MPI to work with brokers to develop its online insurance plan. It also tells MPI to limit advertising to what is essential to their core business spending and says the Crown Corp. must reduce overall staffing at least 8%.