Manitoba

Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister promises to cut cabinet

Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister is promising to cut the number of cabinet ministers if he becomes premier, but he's not saying which portfolios he would axe.

Smaller cabinet just one cost-cutting measure Pallister has noted in advance of April 19 election

Manitoba Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says if elected, he will downsize the 19-member cabinet by one-third to streamline administration and reduce costs. (CBC)

Manitoba Opposition Leader Brian Pallister is promising to cut the number of cabinet ministers if he becomes premier, but he's not saying which portfolios he would axe.

Pallister has said he would downsize the 19-member cabinet by one-third to streamline administration and reduce costs.

"There will be some reductions, of course, as well in senior staff — deputy ministers and so on," Pallister said in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press.

He wouldn't specify which cabinet positions could go. He suggested some ministers could take on more portfolios or some departments might no longer stand alone.

"We'll get into that at the time when we do the restructuring. But the reality is, in some cases there will be mergers. In some cases, departments will remain relatively the same."

The NDP government has created a few new ministerial posts since taking power in 1999. Healthy Living was carved out of the Health Department. Children and Youth Opportunities was created by combining programs from a number of different existing ministries.

"No disrespect meant to the people who work in those departments," Pallister said. "Some call those billboard ministries — an attempt to create a sense that the government was actually doing something when really they were just creating a name on a door."

Premier Greg Selinger said any government that tries to operate with six fewer ministers would have to cut back on its interaction with stakeholders and the public.

"We deliver a lot of services with non-profit organizations. We deliver services with municipalities and cities. We deliver services with school divisions. We need to be out there engaging and working with people," Selinger said.

"If you want to do a top-down approach, you can have a smaller cabinet. If you want to be out there engaging with people and working with them ... it's not a bad idea to have your people fully engaged."

A smaller cabinet is just one cost-cutting measure Pallister has suggested in advance of the April 19 election. He has also pledged, if elected, to cut government communications jobs and reduce the province's advertising spending.

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