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Manitoba finance minister promises 'fresh start' with public sector unions

The Canadian Press
Manitoba finance minister promises 'fresh start' with public sector unions

WINNIPEG, MAN. – The Manitoba government says it will repeal a wage-freeze bill for public-sector workers, despite a recent court victory.

Finance Minister Scott Fielding says the government wants a fresh start and a different approach.

It’s the latest sign of change under Premier Heather Stefanson, who has promised a more collaborative approach than Brian Pallister, who resigned in September.

The bill was passed in the legislature in 2017 and required a two-year wage freeze, followed by two years of limited raises, for each new public-sector collective agreement.

The bill was never proclaimed into law, but unions said employers were acting as if it was firmly in place.

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge struck down the wage freeze as unconstitutional last year, but that decision was overturned in October by the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only deepened the economic burdens facing Manitoba families and businesses,” Fielding said in a news release Wednesday.

“Our government will continue to address these unprecedented challenges and pressures, while avoiding public sector layoffs and providing financial relief for all Manitobans. All of these shared concerns are best served by a fresh start.”

©2021 The Canadian Press

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