Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends,
Yesterday the Legislature sat for an emergency session to deal with COVID-19 related measures. Unfortunately, the Pallister government started off by trying to ram through legislation unrelated to the pandemic, including a bill that weakens protections for Manitoba pension plans, and a bill that guts the Public Utilities Board and consolidates power over hydro and car insurance rates in the hands of the Premier. Thankfully, the NDP Official Opposition was able to block these and other bills that will hurt working families from moving any further.
Included in the COVID-19 related legislation yesterday was the passage of an amendment to the Employment Standards Code which provides unlimited job-protected leave for workers who need to take time off work due to COVID-19, to self-isolate, care for loved ones, and other reasons. This bill also waives the requirement to provide a doctor’s note in order to take leave. The bill follows the consensus advice of the Labour Management Review Committee and we are glad to see that the Pallister government listened to our advice.
However, we are disappointed to see that they are still refusing to listen to the calls from labour, business, and working Manitobans to provide income support and paid leave for Manitobans being impacted by COVID-19. Manitoba is the only province in Canada that is not providing any income supports to working families in response to the pandemic.
The government has responded to calls from Manitoba’s health care unions to provide 14 days of paid administrative leave for health care workers who are sent home due to possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. This is an important measure and we’re encouraging the government to extend this paid leave to all workers.
We’re also deeply concerned with Pallister’s new threat to slash public services and layoff, public sector workers. Manitoba families and our economy are relying on keeping as many people working as possible through this crisis. Pallister’s plan to cut services and jobs will make things worse and hurt our economic recovery. Now more than ever we need to focus on helping people, not just the bottom line.
President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour