March 20 was a busy day in our province, legislatively.
While a number of acts and amendments were introduced (read our response on cannabis harm reduction, removing the tuition cap, vehicles for hire), significant focus was trained on the public services sustainability act introduced to address Manitoba's significant deficit.
Among other things, the proposed legislation introduces a four-year period of capped pay increases for public servants while respecting existing agreements and pensions. Maintaining those collective agreements is critically important to labour stability and, in doing so, the government is taking a reasoned and responsible approach to addressing Manitoba's systemic deficit.
As we've previously stated, however, wages and benefits represent just one important areas for savings. They're not sufficient unto themselves to fix our fiscal imbalance.
The Winnipeg Chamber is eager to hear how this government will work with partners to capitalize on opportunities – particularly opportunities to innovate how services are delivered for Manitobans. Therein lies the best path toward fiscal health and enhanced results for the long term, so we encourage the province and its employee representatives to continue to negotiate in good faith beyond salaries and benefits to how system wide innovation can be implemented.
Manitobans are hungry for positive messaging on our future, for a call to take action as well as accept trimmed budgets. We encourage the government to transition from talking about our financial challenges to advancing tangible solutions to overcome those challenges.
While this legislation is an important first step, we look forward to the details coming out in April 11 budget which will give Manitobans a much deeper appreciation for how the province will solve our fiscal situation.