News from the Manitoba Legislature

April 25, 2016:Tories will end spotlight hunting
April 25, 2016:PCs make energy efficiency an important pillar of green strategy
April 25, 2016:Legislation to end vote tax will be introduced first session under new PC government
January 25, 2016:Selinger NDP guarantees tax hikes and front-line service cuts
View the full list of Wayne's News from the Legislature

Unemployment skyrockets in Manitoba under Selinger NDP

Number of unemployed workers is up 13 per cent since 2009 as Premier fumbles economy: Friesen

January 8, 2016 – Unemployment in Manitoba has skyrocketed by 13.7 per cent since Greg Selinger became NDP premier in 2009, according to figures released today by Statistics Canada. That rise in the number of unemployed workers is the largest such increase of all 10 provinces during that period.

“These unemployment numbers are alarming. The Selinger NDP’s mismanagement of the economy is costing Manitobans their jobs,” said Cameron Friesen, Opposition finance critic. “The rise in unemployment shows the damage done by this Premier’s high-tax, wasteful agenda.”

Equally disturbing is the statistics make it clear how the NDP government has led Manitoba in the opposite direction from the rest of Canada. The 13.7 per cent increase since 2009 in unemployed people in this province has come as the number of people out of work nationally fell by 12.9 per cent, nearly the same rate.

There were 4,600 more people unemployed in Manitoba in 2015 than in 2009. In the one year between December 2014 and December 2015, the number of full-time jobs in Manitoba dropped by approximately 8,300 while the number of private-sector jobs decreased by about 10,000.

“These job losses in Manitoba have come while the Selinger NDP has spent more than $2 million in public funds on its Steady Growth, Good Jobs partisan advertising campaign,” Friesen added. “Manitobans are tired of the same NDP broken promises and want a change for the better. This is broken trust, and a broken NDP government.”

Selinger NDP ignored public servants to push through Tiger Dams deal

Ombudsman’s findings show NDP has learned nothing from previous civil-service abuses: Goertzen

January 7, 2016 – The Selinger NDP government ignored serious concerns expressed by senior civil servants and ordered a purchase of Tiger Dams to proceed without tender, according to a provincial Ombudsman’s report released today. That report examined the $5-million contract that was spearheaded in 2014 by Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton for Tiger Dams for the Interlake Reserves Tribal Council.

“The Ombudsman’s findings show the Minister was determined to award this contract to a specific vendor and through an untendered contract,” said Opposition house leader Kelvin Goertzen. “This was done with complete disregard to the advice of senior civil servants who were fulfilling their duty to provide expert advice and do what is right for all Manitobans.”

The report finds senior staff in the Department of Infrastructure and Transportation had advised the Minister that there already existed a sufficient inventory of Tiger Dams and that more equipment diversification was needed. The Ombudsman also discovered there appeared to be price irregularities that were unexplainable by department staff. All that advice was ignored as the Minister directed public servants to proceed in recommending the untendered contract to the Treasury Board.

The scope of the Ombudsman’s probe was limited in excluding any considerations of ministerial wrongdoing or conflict of interest, though the findings further outline the Selinger NDP’s willingness to abuse the provincial public service for political gain.

“The NDP has learned nothing from previous investigations into its abuse and politicizing of the public service,” Goertzen added, noting the Ombudsman’s probe in 2013 of former cabinet minister Christine Melnick’s use of provincial staff at a legislature rally. “The NDP shows no respect for the civil service and continues to put its political interests above those of the province.”

PCs continue call for stadium audit, even if NDP and Liberals won’t

PCs willing to stand up for taxpayers and prevent future waste: Stefanson

January 1, 2016 – Manitoba PCs are once again requesting that the Auditor General conduct a comprehensive audit of the Investors Group Field construction project. The cost of the stadium has more than tripled from the $115 million originally announced by the Selinger NDP to a reported $376 million, and will likely continue to soar even higher and result in more money out of the pockets of Manitobans.

“The PCs will continue to work on behalf of taxpayers and with an audit, we can learn what happened and prevent future waste of this magnitude,” said Heather Stefanson, Opposition critic for the City of Winnipeg.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the Liberals have adopted the Selinger NDP approach of less transparency and accountability for Manitoba taxpayers. Audits of this nature are within the existing mandate of the Auditor General and do not cost the taxpayers any additional money.”

Recent comments by the Manitoba Liberals opposing an audit require an explanation as to why they are unwilling to stand up for taxpayers. Following the latest reported price tag of $376 million and growing, Manitobans understand that wasteful spending costs more and that someone should be held accountable for the mismanagement of this project.

“We are prepared to continue that work as Manitoba’s next government and ensure the prevention of such waste,” Stefanson added.

Selinger NDP’s projected deficit balloons 30 per cent to $550 million

December 22, 2015 – The quarterly financial report just released by the Selinger NDP paints a gloomy picture of an already dismal financial performance and will surely lead to further credit downgrades and tax increases.

The second-quarter financial report presents information for the six months ending September 30, 2015, as well as projections for the end of the fiscal year.

It is hard to know where to start in describing how the Selinger NDP has failed Manitobans by mortgaging our children’s future. Wasteful government spending is projected to be $139 million more than budgeted for the fiscal year 2015-2016.

The projected summary deficit is now $550 million – up by $128 million from the budgeted amount of $422 million. Summary budgeting includes such things as Crown corporations, regional health authorities, school divisions, universities and colleges. It is a much more realistic account of government finances, also known as the ‘real deficit.’ This number is staggering – Manitobans are tired of paying more and getting less.

The debt hole the Selinger NDP is digging for future generations is getting deeper and deeper by the day. Every dollar squandered by this wasteful government is another dollar not spent on health care, education or other essential front-line services.

PCs to return vote tax to Manitobans in 2016

Manitobans get their money back as we stand firm on the vote tax subsidy: Friesen

December 17, 2015 – The provincial Progressive Conservatives are embracing the true spirit of the season as they announced today they will give back the vote tax subsidy in 2016. The vote tax is a little-known subsidy designed by the NDP to give $600,000 in total to all parties each year.  Each party is eligible to receive an amount equal to their proportion of votes cast in the last election.

“The vote tax is a taxpayer-funded subsidy for political parties and just one example of NDP wasteful spending. It is even more insidious in this case, as NDP financial mismanagement dictates it be paid with borrowed money,” said PC finance critic Cameron Friesen.

The NDP received 46% of the votes in 2011 and receives 46% of $600,000 each year. The PC Party has refused to accept the retroactive taxpayer-funded political subsidy since its creation in 2013. Money that could be spent on health care, education, or a number of other high priority front line services is instead being used by the Selinger NDP for political staff and false attack ads.

“Manitoba PC Party MLAs and volunteers will continue to ask for support and earn our way. We will not accept the vote tax political subsidy taken forcibly from non-supporters, but will continue to rely on small donations freely given,” said Friesen.

Statement from Cliff Cullen on potential mine closure in Flin Flon

The following is a statement by PC MLA and Official Opposition Critic for Mineral Resources Cliff Cullen regarding the potential closure of the 777 mine in Flin Flon:

December 17, 2015 – The community of Flin Flon is understandably concerned about the future of their community and loss of a significant number of high paying jobs in the region, while the Selinger NDP continues to provide misinformation on the state of mining in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Progressive Conservatives would develop the potential of the greenstone belt and we are committed to working with industry, Aboriginal peoples and other stakeholders. We need to find the resources, keep the existing jobs while creating new ones, and develop wealth in the north.

Mining is a major force in the provincial economy and the engine of northern development, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue and creating thousands of high paying jobs. The mining sector is one of the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the province.

Our long term strategy supports the mineral exploration sector in doing what they do best: find the next mine in Manitoba, while respecting the environment.

We will work with industries and Aboriginal peoples to ensure the continued sustainable development of the province’s mineral resources in a way that benefits northern and Aboriginal people, northern communities and the province.

PCs call on Selinger to come clean with Chamber of Commerce

Manitobans and Chamber deserve the truth: Friesen

December 15, 2015 – PC Finance Critic Cameron Friesen is calling on the Selinger NDP to use the State of the Province speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to rule out additional tax increases and running deficits beyond 2019.

“This will be the question on the minds of all of the attendees, so we’re simply asking the premier to come clean with his audience – and all Manitobans – and put their minds at ease that we’re not headed for more broken promises,” Friesen said.

In the recent throne speech Selinger left the door open to future tax increases like his broken promise on the PST. The NDP has also refused to commit to getting deficits under control in the foreseeable future.

NDP continues to avoid transparency in government contracts

Committee probing Selinger NDP’s lack of action on two-thirds of audit recommendations: Friesen

December 14, 2015 – The Selinger NDP continues to show no willingness to move toward transparency in its awarding of public contracts, more than a year and a half after the Auditor General cited hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts that had not been tendered by this government.

“The Public Accounts Committee of the legislature is looking today at this NDP government’s continuing delays in implementing the Auditor General’s recommendations made 20 months ago,” said Cameron Friesen, Opposition finance critic. “The premier wants to hide the details of contracts awarded to NDP friends and donors, instead of standing up for the best interests of taxpayers.”

Last month, the Auditor General’s office found the Selinger NDP had failed to implement 68 per cent of its recommendations made in March 2014 to improve the transparency in the awarding of untendered contracts.
Further, the PC Caucus discovered this past summer that the NDP had broken a provincial law in failing to publicly report more than $9 million in untendered contracts for Tiger Dam flood-control barriers spanning several years.

“Manitobans deserve to know they’re getting the best value for their hard-earned tax dollars,” Friesen added.

“Under the NDP, Manitobans are paying more and getting less as this premier hides the contracts awarded to NDP friends and donors. Manitoba families need to know their best interests are represented when government contracts are awarded.”

Selinger NDP ignores poverty until election looms

NDP has had 16 years to take meaningful action: Wishart

December 14, 2015 – The Selinger NDP has willfully neglected poverty in Manitoba for 16 years said PC Family Services critic Ian Wishart today.

“We have to ask, if they truly cared about this issue, why have poverty rates gone up again and why have they waited 16 years?” Wishart said.

Manitoba has the highest percentage of children living in poverty at 29 per cent, and the numbers are going in the wrong direction. Canada as a whole has a childhood poverty rate of 19 per cent and declining. There were 63,791 people using food banks in Winnipeg as of March 2015, reflecting a 58 per cent increase since 2008. Of these users, 42 per cent are children.

In 2013, PC Leader Brian Pallister told the government raising the PST would hurt low-income Manitobans. They ignored the warning and hiked the PST without a referendum.

The regressive NDP PST hike is hurting low-income Manitobans as the Selinger NDP does nothing. While the Selinger NDP will not rule out additional tax hikes, the PCs are the only party that supports removing this unjust, regressive NDP PST tax hike.

Wishart raised some of his concerns while questioning Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross in standing committee today.

Selinger NDP dithers on meaningful children’s services changes

NDP has ignored Manitoba children until just before next election: Wishart

December 14, 2015 – The Selinger NDP has virtually guaranteed no meaningful action on long-overdue improvements to the role of Children’s Advocate. Hours after introducing the relevant legislation earlier this month, the premier’s office and NDP election team stated to media the legislature may not sit again before the next election, preventing their own legislation from coming to a vote.

Under questioning in standing committee today, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross was unaware the premier’s office is backing away from any commitment to bring legislation to a vote before the spring election.

“This minister’s dithering and intentional delays are simply unacceptable. The way the Selinger NDP treats our most vulnerable children has now become a national disgrace,” said Ian Wishart, Opposition family services critic. “The delays began in 2014 and they continue that shameful legacy today.”

In January 2014, Commissioner Ted Hughes made 62 recommendations for improving the province’s child-welfare system after the Phoenix Sinclair tragedy, including improvements to the Children’s Advocate role. Minister Irvin-Ross hired a consultant to help implement 31 of the 62 recommendations. That consultant’s report was delayed until January 2015.

This past summer, the minister announced children’s services legislation is being reviewed yet again, which will mean further delays instead of action, going well past the next election.