The budget delivered by Manitoba’s NDP government contains a number of progressive measures that will benefit the working people of the province, even though changes to Sunday shopping hours may force retail workers to work more hours on Sundays.
Encouragingly, the budget includes a raise to the minimum wage and a commitment to provide Manitobans with the lowest hydro, home heating, and auto insurance costs in the country. It will consolidate the number of regional health authorities in order to streamline administrative costs and eliminate 30 to 35 executive positions. "This move will ensure that monies for health care will be spent in a more efficient manner and reduce unnecessary spending," says UFCW Local 1869 President Aline Audette. “The changes will see more money go directly to the front line delivery of health care, which means Manitobans will get the health care they need, when they need it.”
There was disappointment, however, in the government's proposal to extend Sunday shopping hours. “We were surprised and disappointed that we were not consulted by the government on this proposal, as our local union represents over 7,500 workers in the retail sector,” says UFCW Canada Local 832 President Jeff Traeger. “Our members have collective agreements that provide protection on Sunday shopping hours, but there are thousands of non-union workers in the retail sector who will now be forced to work on Sundays. We hope this is not the beginning of a slippery slope that will bring further negative changes for retail workers in the province.”
Despite the Sunday hours setback, the budget expresses support for enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan, which would secure adequate retirement income for Manitobans. “We are happy that Manitoba’s NDP government is supporting increases to the CPP," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. "Changes to the CPP can only be made through the agreement of a majority of the provinces, so it is important that the Manitoba government conveys its support for changes to the CPP. A doubling of benefit payouts would allow Manitobans and all Canadians to retire with dignity."