Nov. 23, 2016

Premier Brian Pallister continues to suggest a freeze in public sector wages is in the works, but says he won’t release details for the time being.

Speaking with reporters on Nov. 22 he said wage increases agreed to in the past are unsustainable.

“Every day two and a half million dollars more is expended than Manitobans can afford to pay. We ran on a promise to fix the finances and we’ll take measures to do that,” he said.

“Let’s be clear … we can’t afford to continue to boost wages in an unsustainable manner in the civil service.

“The average wage increases have been … increases of two and a half times the rate of inflation for the last number of years. So what we are talking about in terms of impact on folks that work with us is that we’re asking for a pause and are going to be asking for a pause in increases so we can get our financial house in order.”

The premier would not say what the province may be considering or what public service workers would be included.

“We’ll lay out those things after we’ve had a good opportunity to continue our dialogue with our union leaders and they will be consulting, I expect, with their members.”

He made it clear, however, that some clampdown was coming.

“I know non-sustainable when I see it and Manitobans do too and they know change is in order. That is what they voted for this spring and that’s what we’re going to deliver on.”

MTS President Norm Gould said the Society has not heard from the premier on what plans he may have in mind and wouldn’t comment on what the early hints might mean.

“It would be imprudent at this time to speculate as to whether the proposed freeze would extend to teachers,” he said. “Most, if not all, of our local teacher bargaining units have collective agreements in place until mid-2018.”

Listen to the complete Q & A with reporters on SoundCloud, posted by Steve Lambert of Canadian Press: