News / Winnipeg

Manitoba government cuts management jobs as part of deficit plan

WINNIPEG — Some managers in Manitoba's civil service are being laid off this week as part of the Progressive Conservative government's goal to curb spending and cut the deficit.

Managers in the ministries of education and growth, enterprise and trade are among the first to be affected by a plan announced last month to trim 112 management jobs from the civil service while preserving front-line positions.

Premier Brian Pallister said some managers are retiring while others are being let go, but he did not have a detailed breakdown.

"We want to restore the balance. The top is very, very big in our government compared to other jurisdictions and we need to make sure that we ... set a tone at the top," Pallister said Wednesday.

"That effort will continue across government. That'll continue in other sectors as well, including Crowns."

Crown corporations such as Manitoba Hydro, which is dealing with expensive new generating stations and transmission lines, are also looking at job cuts.

The Opposition New Democrats said they are worried the management cuts will affect front-line services.

"These are the types of positions where people look after special education, aboriginal education. It's the people who manage the busing," NDP education critic Wab Kinew said.

"These reductions could impact those services, so we need clarity and we'd like to see a list of who's been let go."

The layoffs coming a few weeks before Christmas is also concerning, Kinew said. 

The cuts are the latest moves Pallister's government has made after winning the April provincial election and inheriting a $846-million deficit. Pallister has promised to balance the budget within eight years by controlling spending growth rather than imposing deep cuts.

He announced last week he plans to introduce legislation in the spring to control public-sector wages and has opened the door to opening existing collective agreements, some of which contain raises through to the end of 2018.

Pallister hinted Wednesday he may freeze politicians' pay, which is currently being examined by independent commissioner Michael Werier.

"I've made it also very clear that I want to set a proper tone at the top and Mr. Werier is aware of that, so we'll see what his recommendations are and we'll deal it at that point in time."

Pallister said he took a five per cent pay cut in the 1990s when the government cut spending and workers were given unpaid days off.

"Past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour," he said when asked whether he will take a pay cut again.

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