Manitoba

Civil servants will be paid, Tories say, after temporary funding bill approved

Any worries about civil servants not getting paid fizzled on Monday when the government passed legislation providing temporary funds to pay employees before its budget takes effect. 

Fletcher, who delayed supply bill, says government's concerns were overblown

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky called on the government to implement some measures to ensure the pay of civil servants does not hang in the balance again. (David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press)

Any worries about civil servants not getting paid fizzled on Monday, when the government passed legislation providing temporary funds. 

The Progressive Conservative government said Monday's bill was needed so that wages for civil servants and payments to public-sector agencies and other entities can continue.

The new fiscal year started on April 1, but the interim supply bill did not pass on the last day of the legislative session in March. 

Independent MLA Steven Fletcher ran out the clock on debate on the interim supply bill in March, arguing the government should have brought forward the bill earlier. 

Michelle Gawronsky, president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union, felt the entire exercise was unnecessary. 

Employees caught in the middle

"All MLAs need to be working together," she said. "I don't care what party line you sit on, people need to be paid for the work that they do and they need to be valued and respected for the work that they do."

She called on the government to create a mechanism to prevent civil servants from facing similar uncertainty in future years. 

House Leader Kelvin Goertzen said the government is considering new measures going forward. He said temporary funds are unlocked automatically in Saskatchewan and there's no need for the government to pass a bill. 

"That's been an active part of the last week's discussion," he said. "We've never really had a situation where an opposition seemed determined, or at least there was a credible threat, that the interim supply bill not pass on time."

Goertzen said there was a legitimate threat that payments would have stopped, which Fletcher, who delayed the bill's passage on March 21, categorically denied. He said they could have borrowed money, as one example. 

"If there was a nuclear war, the civil servants would still be around and get paid," he said.

"There isn't an example in our political system where the government has not met payroll." 

Liberal MLA Jon Gerrard also chastised the government for manufacturing a crisis and blaming it on the opposition. 

Gawronsky said she was assured by Finance Minister Scott Fielding ahead of Monday that civil servants would be compensated somehow, even if the interim supply bill did not pass in time. 

About the Author

Ian Froese

Reporter

Ian Froese is a reporter with CBC Manitoba. He has previously worked for newspapers in Brandon and Steinbach. Story idea? Email: ian.froese@cbc.ca.

With files from the Canadian Press

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