CCPA-MB is Monitoring This Election

This provincial election in Manitoba is pivotal – for the first time since COVID, Manitobans will vote on the record of the Manitoba government’s handling of the pandemic, the state of healthcare, affordability and climate crises. This newsletter offers a sneak peak on what CCPA Manitoba is looking for in this provincial election. It also updates CCPA Manitoba supporters and followers on our plans during the provincial election. 

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Here’s what we will be watching for this provincial election. 

  1. Health care 

COVID hit Manitoba as the province was overhauling the health system. During the first wave of COVID, Manitoba had the second highest deaths from COVID per capita at 89 per 100,000 (CBC). Provincial cuts to health spending pre-COVID, the closure of thre emergency rooms and the lack of staff capacity resulted in extreme pressure on a paired down health care system. 

Recent analysis published by our office, “A Made in Manitoba Crisis”, Ian Hudson, Robert Chernomas and Katherine Burley find Manitoba fares worse than the Canadian average on a variety of health care indicators, including wait times, physicians per 100,000 population, wages for healthcare workers, and job vacancies. The Manitoba government’s task force has responded with privatizing surgeries and services, bleeding the health care system of needed public investment and capacity while lining the profits of private providers. 

Worsening conditions are also found in continuing care: long term care and home care. 

Revitalizing the Conditions of Care in Manitoba: Supporting Long-Term Care and Home-Care Workers in the Recovery from COVID”, a new report by Niall Harney, Senior Researcher and Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues. Manitoba was once a Canadian leader in public home care, however a new report released today finds that staffing in continuing care (long-term care and home care) in Manitoba is at a breaking point, compromising the quality of care for residents and clients. Harney finds public investment of $180 million is needed to bring continuing care up to adequate standards. 

Watch us for more analysis on the political parties commitments to health care, forthcoming by September 25th. 

Please join us for “Public Health Care not Private Profit” with Thomas Linner of the Manitoba Health Coalition on September 21st from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at the Union Centre. Register on Eventbrite here. 

  1. Affordability, inequality, labour & climate 

Neoliberal thinking continues to dominate fiscal discussions despite documented proof trickle down economics does not work to help those struggling paycheque to paycheque. Quality public services that improve individual and community health and well-being help people improve their economic and social status, alongside the important role redistributive taxation plays in ensure the working poor and those on assistance have the basics to live a decent life and do not require interventions from health and the criminal justice systems. 

The affordability crisis will be a leading issue this provincial election, and early announcements show a neoliberal approach by the two leading parties. 

The NDP are not changing the PC’s policy to cut education property taxes at a cost of $450 million annually, despite no alternative source of revenue to pay for education and the regressive nature of this tax cut. The Manitoba Liberals announced they will reverse most of the education property tax changes and remove the Basic Personal Amount starting at those making over $120,000. The NDP is also committing to cut the gas tax at a cost of $165 million. This week the PCs announced they will cut income and land transfer taxes, which will cost an additional $1 Billion in revenue annually to the treasury. 

CCPA MB is crunching the numbers to show the impacts of these cuts, watch for more research forthcoming shortly. 

Already $1.6 billion of annual revenue was cut through tax changes made by the Manitoba government as of the last Budget. Austerity – cuts to public services and public service jobs and pay freezes are the result. Revenues are needed to fix public services, most obviously which could come from increased taxation on those who can afford it – corporations profiting massively from inflation and upper-income earners. 

Even with record federal transfers, Manitoba’s revenue to GDP is down and money is needed to restore healthcare and education cuts, along with urgent community needs for housing, mental health support and the climate crisis. Due to delays related in part to the legislated wage freeze that was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, public sector unions are having to strike action to fight for wage increases related to the cost of living hike. Manitoba needs sufficient revenue to address these needs, but declining revenue with the Manitoba government over the past seven years has cut services to the bone. And CCPA MB is publishing new research to prove it.

A new project led by University of Manitoba academics and CCPA MB research associates Jesse Hajer and Ian Hudson, along with PhD candidate Jennifer Keith surveyed civil servants on the impacts of provincial cuts on public services. CCPA MAnitoba is pleased to be publishing excerpts from these research findings in the lead-up to the provincial election. For example you can read Child Care is also an Austerity Victim by Dr. Susan Prentice and Dr. Jesse Hajer, Slashed to the Bone: Austerity and Manitoba’s Crown Corporations by Lynne Fernandez and Niall Harney and Manitoba Can’t Afford Cuts to Parks, Environmental Protection by Dr. Mark Hudson. 

Watch for more analysis on austerity and new research on the need for strong legislation and policies to protect workers’ rights and  a progressive labour agenda in Manitoba launch by the end of September. 

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