The 2020 Manitoba budget does little to ensure the public health funding that will be needed to properly contain the coronavirus now, and in the future – says CUPE Manitoba, the province’s largest union.

“Public health should be getting a huge cash infusion to staff up for public health task forces, immunization clinics, and ensuring enforcement of quarantine: instead, this government is cutting public health during a time of its most dire need,” says Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “This government is more focused on cutting taxes for ideological reasons, rather than fully supporting the health and well-being of Manitoba families.”

CUPE is concerned that the reduction of the PST to 6%, and the reduction in the payroll tax will further strangle the province’s ability to adequately fund our public services.

“We need to be investing heavily in our education and health care systems, especially now,” added Araya. “The only people in Manitoba who think cutting public health spending at a time like this are members of the Premier’s Cabinet.”

Highlights of the budget include:

  • Cuts to public health programs
  • Cuts to post-secondary grants
  • Frozen grants to school divisions
  • Well-below inflation increases in funding to health care
  • $318 million increase in Federal Transfers
  • $300 million set aside in a rainy-day fund

“This government continues to cut taxes and set aside money in a rainy-day fund, while cutting health care, education, and other public services, and freezing the wages of workers on the front line of the COVID-19 crisis. Our message to Premier Pallister is this: “It’s raining!” says Araya.

CUPE also wants to ensure that this government properly staffs personal care homes, hospitals and primary care sites, especially as additional demand is placed on our health care system.

Critical health care support staff, such as those who work in laundry and housekeeping, should be commended for their role in maintaining sanitary conditions for health care to occur in, helping to slow the transmission of the virus.