MLA’s in the province are taking a voluntary wage freeze.
Before the spring session begun on Wednesday, Premier Brian Pallister announced his caucus will take a pass on an automatic 1.6 per cent cost of living increase that will kick in April 1st and continue to freeze wages for the duration of their term.
Pallister said it helps set an example at a time when public sector workers are also facing demands for wage restraints.
“When you ask a worker in the civil service to take a zero – I know what that’s like and that’s not easy for any family,” Pallister said. We’re not saying this is going to be an easy thing to do, but we need all hands on deck and if we’re asking other people to do it, then us first.”
Pallister announced that his government will table legislation in the coming weeks to curb the growth in public-sector salaries.
The opposition NDP and the Manitoba Liberals announced they will follow suit by freezing their wages as well.
But New Democrat labour critic Tom Lindsey slammed the premier and his party, accusing them of hiding a pay raise.
‘It’s kind of a shame though, that this government, this premier gave himself a 20 per cent increase in wages and then says, ‘well, I’ll take a wage freeze,’ – that’s shameful on his party,” said NDP labour critic Tom Lindsey.
Lindsey is referring to a balanced budget law which stipulated that cabinet ministers had their pay cut by 20 per cent for running deficits. That law also gives a grace period of one year to a new government. Therefore the Pallister government has not been penalized by 20 per cent.
The Premier has since scrapped that law and plans to bring in similar legislation.
The last time negotiations were underway for a wage freeze on civil servants, the NDP government also took a voluntary wage freeze.
Members of the legislature currently make at least $93,000 a year. Cabinet ministers make $144,000 and the premier takes in $170,000.
With files from The Canadian Press