Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in response to Premier Stefanson’s appointment of a Minister of Labour:
Premier Stefanson’s appointment of a Minister of Labour is long past due, as the absence of a Labour minister had made us an outlier in Canada for nearly six years. We are glad to finally have someone to work with on important issues that matter to working people in our province. However, today’s appointment is the bare minimum. What this government does to support working people over the next few months will matter most.
The pandemic has highlighted just how much we rely on workers. And it is clear that workers need more support from this government.
There is a desperate need for government to fix chronic staffing shortages in health care and other areas of the public sector, as well as to create permanent paid sick days so that Manitobans are not forced to choose between going to work sick to pay the bills or staying home to protect public health. Low-wage workers also need a meaningful increase to the province’s embarrassing minimum wage, which is scheduled to drop to the second-lowest in the country this spring.
We look forward to working with Minister Helwer to support working families who continue to face the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, rising prices for groceries and other necessities, and strains on the public services we all rely on.