This government continues to demonstrate a complete lack of respect for Northern Manitobans. Northern issues don’t seem to be a priority for this government, which they’ve demonstrated yet again by introducing Bill 64, the Education Modernization Act. This bill consolidates all of the Northern school divisions into one, as if our communities are identical and have the exact same needs. The Pallister government simply doesn’t understand that there are many different Northern communities that have unique needs.
This lack of understanding is one of the key reasons why we’ve decided to delay this bill. As opposition in a majority government, we can’t guarantee that a piece of legislation doesn’t pass. However, we can choose five bills to delay until fall, giving the public time to form an opinion on a piece of legislation and push back against it if they don’t agree with it.
The other bills we’ve chosen to delay are Bill 57 – the Protection Critical Infrastructure Act, Bill 40 – the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Amendment and Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment Act, Bill 35 – the Public Utilities Ratepayer Protection and Regulatory Reform Act and Bill 16 – the Labour Relations Amendment Act.
We’re delaying Bill 57, as it bans Manitobans’ democratic right to protest at so-called “critical infrastructure” sites, which include railroads, hospitals, the legislature and more.
We’re delaying Bill 40, which would allow for the private sale of liquor. This bill would redirect a large chunk of the annual $280 million in profits Manitoba Liquor Lotteries designates for social services, sports and addictions treatment into private hands. Allowing for the private sale of liquor does nothing to help the addictions crisis and will actually make it worse. MBLL’s profits shouldn’t be given away when they could be helping Manitobans who need it.
We’re also delaying bills 35 and 16 to protect Manitoba Hydro workers and Manitoban ratepayers. Bill 35 removes public oversight and reduces accountability by taking away the ability for the Public Utilities Board to set hydro rates and transferring that power to the cabinet and the minister. This is a shameful power grab.
Bill 16 would remove the requirement for binding arbitration if a labour dispute reaches a certain length of time. This bill will increase the likelihoods of prolonged strikes as employers can out-wait their employees rather than bargain with them. It will make it easier to fire workers on a picket line without justification and make it easier to decertify a union, while previous bills made it much harder to get certification. This bill will hurt workers and our economy.
Premier Brian Pallister and his entire caucus are doing all of this in the middle of a pandemic while people are focused on their health and trying to get vaccinated. These are not the only pieces of legislation that will make life harder for people but we can only delay five. It is time to tell Mr. Pallister to stop.
If you’re concerned about these bills I would encourage you to sign up for bill committees so that you can make yourself heard by calling 204-945-3636. For any other questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out by phone at 204-687-3246 or email Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca.