Now that we’ve headed back to the legislature for our spring sitting, I wanted to provide an update from the last months and highlight some of the key issues I’ll be fighting for in the months to come alongside my NDP colleagues.
Something that I have been challenging the PC government on is their interference in collective bargaining. Just last week, an independent arbitrator sided with the workers at Manitoba Hydro and against this government. The PC government tried to impose layoffs in 2019 but was unsuccessful after Manitoba Hydro cited safety concerns with the staff reduction. Then the PCs tried again in 2020, this time using the pandemic as a reason for the need for cost-cutting. The arbitrator ruled that the layoffs requested by former premier Brian Pallister were a clear violation of the "lack of work" clause in the hydro workers union’s collective agreement with Manitoba Hydro.
Not only did this PC government interfere with workers' rights at Manitoba Hydro, they did the same thing at the University of Manitoba. A court found this government undermined negotiations and interfered, and the government has been ordered to pay millions for their interference. Meanwhile, thousands of frontline healthcare workers have been without a contract for five years because of this government's interference. This government needs to get stop interfering with collective bargaining.
Another main issue the NDP is fighting for during this legislative session is access to healthcare and accountability when it comes to how healthcare is provided by this government. We’ve repeatedly raised the issue of the death of Krystal Mousseau, who died last year while in transport from Brandon ICU to Ontario during the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. This PC government has refused to hold an inquiry into her death, even though a critical incident report revealed that health care providers did not have the right equipment and she received an inappropriate amount of at least one of her medications during her transport. When NDP leader Wab Kinew asked Premier Stefanson about this, she responded callously by talking about her son’s hockey team. This shows just how out of touch this PC government is and that they are not taking the health and safety of all Manitobans as seriously as they should.
Another issue I have been advocating for is increased and improved internet access throughout the north. Towns like Lynn Lake and Leaf Rapids only have access to unstable and severely limited internet services which threatens the capacity to provide healthcare, education, stable communications, and commercial opportunities for residents. I have and will continue to call on this PC government to support projects that will provide stable and high-speed networks in the north. We need action now, not just more empty words and promises.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 204-687-3246 or Tom.Lindsey@yourmanitoba.ca.