Manitoba 2016 Provincial Election Survey

The upcoming election has the potential to affect our union membership. To help you get to know their policies, we sent out a questionnaire to all three of the major political parties in Manitoba.

The NDP and Liberal parties responded to our questionnaire. Below you will find their answers to our questions about government/labour relationships, infrastructure, workers safety and more.

1. Regardless of political ideology, labour and government need to work together for the good of our province. What will your party do to strengthen ties and relationships with Manitoba unions and their members?

NDP:

We have a strong record working closely with labour for the benefit of the province. We honour the collective bargaining process and are committed to making good jobs available to Manitobans and avoiding layoffs and high rates of unemployment that are bound to occur when a conservative government focuses too singularly on debt reduction and budget cuts.

We understand that the foundations of any economy are its infrastructure and its people. Our $10 billion commitment to infrastructure will grow the economy and its success is dependent upon the work that your members do. We are committed to a strong public health care system and understand that it is about people taking care of people. We reject the view of Conservative leader Brian Pallister that Manitoba consider the American-style, private health care system.

Manitoba is only as strong as its people, making labour relations, education and skills training and health care top priorities for our party. We understand that good relationships and cooperation between government and labour are critical, and reject the approach that would threaten that because of short-sighted and unilateral focus on reducing expenditures, especially in infrastructure such as highways, Manitoba Hydro and flood protection.

Liberal Party:

We are committed to work with all unions and their members.  We are a unionized province and failure to engage our unions is simply irresponsible.  We work well together when we don’t get blinded by ideology.

2. Safety on the job site is one of OE987’s priorities. How will your party help keep Manitoba’s workers safe and improve safety standards on the job, especially when it comes to young, unexperienced workers?

Liberal Party:

Safety first should be everyone’s goal and we will work with employers to always ensure we are being proactive on safety.  The current government, to its credit, has moved this file forward and we will carry on that work.

NDP:

Every worker deserves to come home safe at the end of the day. We are committed to making Manitoba workplaces the safest in Canada. We have more than doubled the number of Officers enforcing health and safety laws in Manitoba and increased workplace safety and health inspections from 1600 in the late 1990's to 14,000 today.

We have improved many laws to help make workplaces safer and will continue to make workplace safety a priority. Working with business and trade unions to implement new and better ways to ensure safety standards, we will continue to ensure that workers are properly educated and protected.

This stands in contrast to our Conservative political opponents who have opposed our NDP measures to create safer workplaces and protect working families and whose plans for budget cuts would eliminate jobs, hurt our economy, and pursue austerity at the expense of construction jobs and safer workplaces.

3. The price of gas may be low but the cost of food is through the roof right now. It’s getting more and more expensive to feed a family. What will your party do to improve the standard of living for working class Manitobans?

NDP:

We are committed to keeping Manitoba an affordable place to live and have put in place legislation that will keep the costs of hydro, home heating and auto-insurance – our ‘affordability bundle’ the lowest in Canada. We have continued to increase the minimum wage in Manitoba and are committed to ensure working class Manitobans can enjoy the things that make Manitoba such a great place to work, live and play.

We will introduce a modest income tax adjustment so that the top 1.9% of earners (those over $170,000) so that we can ensure working and middle class Manitobans can enjoy an income tax cut. We are continuing to ensure that child care, university tuition, and home care are made more affordable and more accessible.

Our opponents believe public, Crown agencies should be privatized, arguing that corporate profits would make services more affordable for Manitobans. We know this has not been true and that Manitobans continue to experience amongst the lowest utility and insurance rates in Canada. Manitoba Hydro as a public agency has proven its worth in terms of reliability, new projects and jobs. Conservative attacks on Hydro threaten construction jobs and the long-term future of Hydro.

Liberal Party:

We need to work towards an economy that is more robust than we have now.  Good jobs are great, but fantastic jobs, enriching jobs, inspiring jobs are better and that means supporting industry that is providing these types of jobs and ensuring our next generation of workers is well prepared to fill these jobs.  We are also looking at Basic Income to see if that is the answer to transitioning workers and for those who are temporarily without work.

4. Despite technological advances, the majority of healthcare still consists of people taking care of people. What is your party’s recruitment/retention plan for frontline care givers in hospitals and other medical facilities?

Liberal Party:

Improving technology is definitely making healthcare more expensive, but people make this system work.  We need to be competitive with the rest of the world for our professionals.  We also must consider offering incentive to health professionals to go to remote  and rural areas on a rotating basis if we are not able to get more of them to take up residence in these areas.

NDP:

The NDP understands that our health care system is only as strong as the health professionals working in hospitals and other facilities. We have continued to recruit and retain professionals across the health system – doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, health-care aides.

When we were elected to take over from the Conservatives, we reversed the budget cuts and layoffs that caused so much damage to the health care system in Manitoba, including the loss of hundreds of doctors and nurses and the closures of needed hospital and clinics. We have continued to build upon our success and will continue to prioritize health care personnel into the future, rather than cutting budgets, firing workers, and exploring two-tier health care as our Conservative opposition is likely to do.

Our approach is different. We are rebuilding health facilities across the province with upgraded emergency rooms, new personal care homes, and new clinics.

5. What is your party’s position on the PST increase?

NDP: 

The PST increase was a very difficult decision to make and we know we should have handled that in a better way. The context was challenging. Successive floods came with major costs to government and economic fragility persisted beyond the initial global recession in 2008. However, the revenue it generates was and is necessary to continue with our high levels of investment in core infrastructure projects, while preserving the services, like health care, that Manitobans depend on.

The NDP infrastructure plan is now proven in its success – it has meant new highways, bridges, roads and flood protection projects and it means construction jobs in every region. Our NDP plan will continue with investments that total almost $2 billion more than the Conservative proposal. Pallister’s plan means fewer projects and fewer jobs in coming years.

Our economy is strong, employment is high, and our necessary infrastructure investments will ensure it stays that way, supported by the revenue generated by the PST without having to cut important services. The Conservatives pledge to roll back the PST and lose that revenue, along with the deep budget cuts and other fiscal measures they are promising will mean reductions to our infrastructure plan and significant cuts to services such as health care, education and highway maintenance. Mr. Pallister has said that everything is on the table for his budget cuts and we know from his record in the Filmon Conservative government that he means business. In the 1990s when he was in power, building cranes were an endangered species in Manitoba. Nothing was being built.  We will not let that happen again.

Liberal Party:

We will direct the extra one point of PST to a municipal infrastructure fund to be used by those municipalities on a per-capita basis on their infrastructure priorities.  We will return it to 7 percent before or in 2023 as was legislated, but municipalities will retain their one percent.

6. What is your party’s infrastructure investment plan in order to keep our province competitive?

Liberal Party:

We intend to invest in infrastructure at about the same pace as the NDP government.  We will however be investing some money in social infrastructure, things like daycares, schools, arts facilities.   We will also put a major focus on repairing existing roads and bridges before building out.   We will also be putting a substantial focus on rapid and active transit.

NDP:

Our party is committed to investing $10 billion over the next 8 years on core infrastructure to accomplish two distinct but important goals.

First, our highways and bridges need to be modernized and renewed for the long term health of Manitoba’s economy. To spur growth and innovation we need to plan a modern highway system that involves new interchanges and highways that will help get trade goods to market.

Manitoba’s highways were neglected for too many decades after the majority of them were constructed in the 50’s and 60’s and without significant and sustained investment our transportation infrastructure, the backbone of any economy, was going to collapse. Our strategic investments are designed to make Manitoba the transportation hub of Canada, a gateway to North America and the world. That means more jobs in construction and more jobs in many related industries.

Second, global economic fragility continues to persist and our infrastructure investment plan is a means of weathering economic storms and stimulating Manitoba’s economy. The economic benefits of our $10 billion plan are significant, generating over $10 billion in economic growth and creating more than 100,000 jobs.

The Conservative plan for infrastructure construction means fewer jobs and less economic activity. That provides a very clear choice in this election. We are committed to our infrastructure plan, to the jobs it generates and to the economic and community benefits that it provides for all Manitobans.