WINNIPEG – A promise to get public sector spending under control highlights today’s throne speech as another sitting of the Manitoba Legislature gets underway.
Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon delivered the 18 page speech this afternoon, highlighting the Progressive Conservative government’s agenda moving forward.
As expected, there’s a focus on controlling spending with the ultimate goal of cutting into our massive $846 million dollar deficit.
Premier Brian Pallister calls it “fixing our finances” and says legislation will be introduced to ensure our public sector costs, including those of places like hospitals and universities, do not exceed Manitobans’ abilities to pay for those services through things like taxes.
Pallister wouldn’t commit when asked if that meant there would be spending caps for the public sector but did say it could influence collective bargaining with unions.
“Our number one category of expenditure in the public service is of course wages,” he says. “We cannot fail to get a handle on the our of control spending growth that we’ve seen.”
“The government is not working with it’s own money. The government is working with the money it takes off the kitchen tables of the people of this province. We want some common sense back.”
Pallister says in some cases wages are going up by 2.5 times the rate of inflation. Most public sector unions negotiate raises for workers when contracts expire every few years.
The Premier said the first phase of the government’s highly anticipated fiscal review is complete and findings will be released in the new years. Finding savings within government itself was perhaps the biggest campaign promise for the tories.
Pallister said the government had received thousands of ideas from regular citizens and suggested they had already found more than the $50 million dollars in savings promised during their first year in office.
THRONE SPEECH HIGHLIGHTS
- A promise to officially enact a new referendum law that would give Manitobans’ the right to vote on any major tax hikes. Pallister calls it a “taxpayers bill of rights.”
- Strengthening legislation to prevent ticket scalping. This could include modernizing and enhancing protections for consumers.
- A strategy to combat the spread of the deadly drug Fentanyl and other opiods. There will be a focus on public education.
- Creation of a provincial agency designed to recruit doctors and keep them working in Manitoba.
- Going beyond changes to the federal CPP to create a sort of provincial pension plan called “Pooled Retirement Pension Plans”.
- A strategy to fix and revamp the Child and Family Services department with the goal of having fewer children in care.
- Legislation to create a standalone energy efficiency agency to help households reduce energy needs. There’s also another pledge to come up with a “made in Manitoba” carbon pricing and climate change plan.
- A promise to reduce delays in Manitoba’s backlogged court system.
Pallister says the ultimate goal is to get the province’s finances back on track while protecting and fixing key services.
The speech refers to “setting a new course”.
“For too many years, the previous administration chose to fix its finances by making it harder on your finances,” said Pallister. “And we can’t do that.”
This sitting of the Legislature is slated to last into early December.