In my column last week, I mentioned that our Progressive Conservative team passed 28 government bills and two private member’s bills in three months of hard work at the Manitoba legislature during the recently completed spring session.
Continuing on our path to make Manitoba the most improved province in Canada, we have new laws that will help fix the province’s finances by reducing the deficit, sustain our public services, improve the child welfare system, bring predictability to the minimum wage and save Manitobans money on their power bills, among many other important measures.
After our entire 40-member PC Caucus decided in early March to take a freeze on our MLA salaries until the next general election, we began to work even harder in the House to fix Manitoba’s finances. Our government’s new Fiscal Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act ensures financial sustainability for our province with a commitment to smart fiscal management, after the previous NDP administration doubled the provincial debt in just eight years. This new law requires real progress toward balanced budgets through progressively smaller deficits, and includes pay cuts for cabinet ministers who fail to achieve legislated deficit-reduction targets.
With other legislation, we are protecting and repairing the services Manitoba families depend on. The Public Services Sustainability Act brings more certainty to public-sector compensation costs by establishing a rolling four-year period to set a framework for future pay increases. At the same time, we are encouraging our provincial government employers and unions to work together to find savings that can be returned to Manitobans. This balanced and measured approach does not involve wage rollbacks and does not affect workers’ pensions.
Our government is also taking strong steps to better meet the needs of children in care by giving the Children’s Advocate increased powers and responsibilities. The new Advocate for Children and Youth Act expands the mandate of the Advocate’s office beyond Child and Family Services in order to help other vulnerable kids and young adults.
For workers and their families looking for wage predictability, as well as for businesses, we have passed the Minimum Wage Indexation Act that adjusts the minimum rate on Oct. 1 of each year to reflect inflation. We are raising the minimum hourly wage to $11.15 this fall and ensuring regular, predictable increases with a sensible approach that will keep the wage steady in years of negative or no inflation.
As well, we are assisting families and businesses with their power bills through Efficiency Manitoba, a new Crown agency that will develop energy-saving programs. This agency, created with new legislation, will reduce energy bills for consumers and companies after proposed rate increases resulting from the NDP’s mismanagement of Manitoba Hydro.
We completed a lot of important work this past spring. We look forward to returning to the House in the fall, as our government and PC team continue to work for Manitobans by fixing our finances, repairing our services and rebuilding our economy.
Greg Nesbitt is the MLA for the Riding Mountain constituency. He can be reached at 204-759-3313, 1-844-877-7767 or by email at email@example.com