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Analysis

3 Things Brian Pallister Hopes Manitobans Will Be Too Distracted to Remember By Calling an Early Election

With an early election looming, let's take a closer look at the premier's record

Manitoba is headed for an early election, after three years of Tory governance that even the right-leaning National Post described as “abrasive and sometimes baffling.”

Timing an early election so close to a federal election would appear to suggest Premier Brian Pallister is hoping Manitobans are too distracted by the fireworks of a federal election to focus too closely on his own record leading the province.

Here are three things Pallister might be hoping Manitobans forget before e-day:

1. Pallister gas gutted rent assist and the province’s social housing stock

As reported previously, Pallister’s government has made cuts to rent assistance programs each successive year.

The most recent is set to kick in on July 1st, will freeze Rent Assist rates for individuals without disabilities on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) and for individuals under the age of 55, not on EIA. This will cancel a $27 increase per month for those impacted.

Josh Brandon, researcher with the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, told PressProgress Since 2016 there have been cuts each year.”

Pallister’s government has also raised the threshold low-income households pay of their income on shelter costs from 25% to 30%. This costs a minimum has had $111 per month cut from the Rent Assist program.

Pallister also failed to build any new social housing and the province and sold of around 1,000 of the remaining units, after additionally having provincial home repair programs for low income Manitobans eliminated entirely.

2. He took away workers’ rights to organize without intimidation

Back in 2016, PressProgress uncovered leaked audio of Pallister vowing to introduce a law to force workers to vote in a majority — twice, in order to unionize.

Bill 7, one of his government’s earliest bills was titled the “Labour Relations Amendment Act, included provisions forcing workers to organize a secret ballot vote after already having at least 40% sign voting cards designating their interest in unionizing.

That provides no real benefit to workers — who just have to vote twice — but studies have repeatedly shown it provides space for employers to mobilize against union drives, resulting in fewer certifications.

Even the right-wing Fraser Institute – which promotes American-style right-to-work laws – points out “workers are less likely to choose unions when … decisions are made through secret ballot voting.”

3. His government has been terrible for public services

In his first year as premier, Pallister’s government froze public sector wages, cut 900 hydro jobs (about 15% of its work force), 200 health care managers, and has recently announced four new P3 schools. Last year, the CBC reported his government had cut the civil service by 8%

As Unifor noted, the government also turned down matching federal funds for infrastructure and made cuts to healthcare.

 

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