Over the course of this pandemic, public servants have been at the frontline providing the essential services that Manitoban families depended on during these difficult times. Despite the great work these folks have done for our province, the government has continued to impose wage freezes, layoffs and caps on these hard-working people. However, the recent verdict on Bill 28, the Public Service Sustainability Act, validated what most have already known - the government's legislation on wage freezes is unconstitutional and a violation of Charter rights. It is time for the Pallister government to show respect for working people in this province.
The recent government ordered layoffs at Manitoba Hydro will hurt many working families and may have negative impacts on our northern communities. The services provided by Hydro are already stretched thin in the north and the additional cuts to the workforce will only serve to further diminish the quality of our services. Like all Manitobans, we are greatly concerned about these cuts and the government's continuous interference into the operation of Crown corporations. Once again, we see the true disdain this Premier has for the hard working Hydro crews - it seems he has forgotten last fall's storm and power outages already.
As the labour critic, I will continue to urge this government to change course and avoid making more unwarranted cuts to the public sector and Crown services. The government claims the cuts they have made have had no impact on people's access to services, but I hear a very different story from residents in the north who have been impacted by the lack of workers in various departments.
The public health orders given by the province on border crossings and northern travel have been largely unclear. Residing in border communities leaves people heavily reliant on cross-border travel to access the services and goods they require. Restrictions were put in place to help reduce the spread of the virus, but the lack of clarity and information provided by this government on travelling between Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach have caused mass confusion. The rules have been ambiguous at times due to various exempted activities but other restricted activities. Enquiries into these issues has been a frustrating exercise for me and for citizens when the answers were at times just as ambiguous.
The pandemic has created much uncertainty for our northern commercial fishers. With restaurant, hotel and hospitality closures, there was a large drop in demand and in turn a large drop in fishers’ sales, leaving them, their families and their communities in financial uncertainty. Our northern caucus wrote a letter to the Minister asking for the province to step up and provide much needed support that was lacking from the federal government. We have yet to see any aid to date. Fishers need the government to step up and meet their needs. Their very livelihood depends on it.
The government to date refuses to resume regular sitting of the Legislature and continues to hide from accountability for the actions or sometimes lack of actions. However, until we return, I will continue to advocate for the needs of our northern families and communities.
While the office is closed we continue to work from home and can be reached by email or phone at: Flinflon1@yourmanitoba.ca or Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca, or call: 1-204-687-3246.