Education Finance Report – May 14, 2018
Bill 28 at a Glance
What is Bill 28? the Public Services Sustainability Act, calls for public sector workers to have their wages frozen for 2 years, followed by a modest 0.75% increment in year 3 with up to a full 1% increase in the fourth year. Assuming inflation continues to increase by a rate of 2%, the net effect of this loss to purchasing power will be compounded year over year to the tune of 6.2% at the end of the legislated wage pause. For an average teacher in Manitoba, this translates to approximately a $15,464 overall loss.
Is Bill 28 Necessary?
In short, no. The Pallister government claims that the wage freeze is necessary to get MB’s fiscal house in order, stating repeatedly that it will take “all hands on deck” to tackle the deficit. Since January, 2017, MB’s public sector unions have offered practical solutions that would generate government revenue and offset the need for austerity cuts. However, the government chose to ignore these solutions and to introduce the heavy-handed legislation that undermines the collective bargaining process. In response, MB’s public sector unions have come together to create a Partnership to Defend Public Services (PDPS), of which MTS is just one of 26 unions representing over 120,000 public sector workers. In June 2017, Bill 28 was passed. However, the Pallister government chose not to proclaim the legislation (making it fully legal). Regardless of when the act is proclaimed, the impact of the government’s new law is already being felt at the bargaining table. (Incidentally, another controversial Pallister piece of legislation, Bill 29, dealing with the amalgamation of health care bargaining units in Manitoba, has been proclaimed as of May 9 – Winnipeg Free Press – https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/tories-proclaim-bill-to-amalgamate-health-care-bargaining-units-482240753.html).
Why a Legal Challenge?
Bill 28 shows a blatant disregard for the collective bargaining rights of the workers who provide public services to all Manitobans. As recently as November, 2016, collective bargaining has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada as a charter right. Not only is Bill 28 unfair, but it is unconstitutional! The legal challenge will be long and the process will be slow. However, it is necessary for MTS to stand with other unions against Bill 28 so that we are united in pushing back against attacks on the rights of working people in MB and the government’s plan to cut the services we all rely on.
Here are some facts that you may wish to share with friends, family and neighbours as the barbecue season now starts.
The Manitoba economy is doing far better than expected. The $1 billion deficit that has been forecasted by the Pallister government has been an effective lead-in for austerity measures. In reality, however the provincial deficit is hundreds of millions of dollars lower. A recent CBC report (May 1, 2018) quoted the Manitoba Crown Services Minister, Cliff Cullen, saying “the government of Manitoba is facing a $500 million deficit this year.” (www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/pub-hydro-electricity-rate-pallister-manitoba-board-1.4643083). Like most governments since the time Paul Martin was federal finance minister, economic growth rates are deliberately conservative, masking economic realities. When election times roll around, governments look like economic geniuses when the real data is “unveiled” and made public.
Here are some details of positive economic indicators for Manitoba
- MB is centrally located in North America with a comprehensive transportation and communication network.
- MB population is 1.34 M, the fastest growing province in the past three years.
- MB has extensive natural resources – minerals, forests, fertile soils, freshwater lakes.
- MB has a sound credit rating – Moody’s AA2 (stable) and S&P A+ (stable).
- MB has a broad export base – grains, oilseeds, livestock, aerospace, transit and inner city buses, processed food products, machinery & equipment, mining & oil extraction, electricity (mostly hydro), industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
- MB has the lowest household debt per capital among all Canadian provinces (>$25,000).
- MB has the second lowest unemployment rate – 5.4% – among all Canadian provinces. The Canadian average is at 6.5%.
- MB had a Real GDP growth rate increase of 2.9% in 2017, the highest since 2012. Compare this to the 2017 MB inflation rate, which averaged 1.6%, fourth among all provinces.
- In January 2018 on a year over year basis, new motor vehicle sales were up 55.6%, placing MB first among all provinces.
- In 2017, MB farm cash receipts increased 8.8%, first among all Canadian provinces, to a record $6.5B
- In 2017, MB farmers harvested a record volume of production of combined major crops
- MB recorded 17,806 births in the 2017 calendar year, the highest since 1972
- In 2017, the working age population exceeded 1M persons for the first time in MB
- MG had a January 1, 2018 population of 1,346,993, an increase of 19,110 persons or 1.4% from a year earlier
- As of July 1, 2017, MB’s median age was 37.4 years, third youngest among provinces (Canadian average at 40.6)
- In 2017, MB housing starts increased 41.0% to 7,501, the highest level of starts since 1987, ranking second among all provinces. (Canadian average was up 11.0%)
- MB average weekly earnings are up 3.0%, fifth best among provinces and below the Canadian average @ 3.2%
- MB posted a record level of capital investment in residential and non-residential buildings in 2017
- MB has a below average Interest on Debt to Revenue (2017-2018) among provincial peers (>6%). Only AB, SK & BC are lower.
- MB has the lowest retail electricity prices not only in Canada but in all of North America. (>$0.06/kWh)
*****all charts could not be included… if you would like a full copy of this report please contact email@example.com
Note that an increase in Provincial spending on education for 2018-2019 is negligible, only a 0.5% change from 2017-2018. This means that those school divisions seeing an increase in funding for 2018-2019 are in effect being subsidized by those school divisions seeing a decrease in their funding. Even though it looks like there are some winners and some losers, in effect, all school divisions are losing and it is the students in our classrooms that will ultimately have to pay the price for this.
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