Manitoba premier promises regular 100-day government updates
Next 100-day update will be in November, says Premier Brian Pallister
One hundred days down, expect another government update in 100 days from now, says Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister.
Pallister is promising to keep Manitobans informed on where his government is at in its efforts to "rebuild this province and to get it back on track."
He said he'll give regular updates on the Progressive Conservative government's work every 100 days, with the next update scheduled for November.
On Thursday morning, the premier listed some of his government's highlights to date, including the tabling of a budget in short order, forming his legislative team and building strong relationships with other premiers across Canada.
"We're just getting going but we are excited with some of the progress we've made," Pallister told reporters on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature.
Manitoba gets consensus on CPP changes
Pallister said he's secured the support of other provincial leaders for a Manitoba-led proposal for Canada Pension Plan reform. Earlier this year, the province held back its vote on changes to the CPP, but it eventually agreed to sign on.
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"I am really pleased to tell you today we have a consensus among all premiers of the country of the changes we have proposed [and] will be supported by them as we move into out triannual review of the Canada Pension Plan," Pallister said, adding that the Manitoba-proposed reforms will make the CPP better for all retirees.
It's clear that Pallister relishes his role in inter-provincial and federal-provincial relations. He spoke glowingly of his counterparts from other parts of the country and said he was surprised but pleased to have spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau six times in the PC government's first 100 days in office.
On some major files, Pallister admits much more work is needed. On the closure of the Port of Churchill, he said discussions are continuing to find a solution. He would not say if he has spoken to executives at OmniTrax, the company that is closing the port.
Pallister was pressed by reporters on what projects that were promised funding by the previous NDP government would see provincial money. On Wednesday, the government announced it will make good on a $9-million pledge by the NDP in 2015 for the Churchill Marine Observatory.
Funding still under review
Pallister said his government is reviewing a number of funding promises, adding up to approximately $600 million, and it would not be funding them all.
"Many of these promises that were made were more desperate than they were sustainable and affordable," Pallister said.
Pallister was asked to clarify his election promise to protect front-line provincial staff while balancing Manitoba's books. He said in his first 100 days, "an enlightening amount of information has come forward" that he did not have when he was opposition leader.
Now as premier, Pallister said he has to "appraise a situation that's real," but he reiterated his party's election promise.
"My commitment has always been to support front-line services for people in Manitoba and those services can't be delivered without front-line service workers — and that remains my commitment," he said.
Pallister did tell reporters the government would look at middle-level civil servants and duplication, with an eye to creating efficient services.
Pallister is also signalling growing concerns about federal health-care transfers and possible cuts to Manitoba's share. He identified Ottawa's part of the health-care funding as roughly a third and said reviews of wait times and other health-care-related activity would be influenced by what the federal government is sending to the province.
100 days gets failing grade from NDP
The opposition NDP chose to mark the first 100 days of the Pallister government with a news conference on Wednesday.
Interim leader Flor Marcelino blasted the PCs for threatening labour peace with new legislation, cutting school tax rebates for seniors and allowing unemployment to rise.
"His government's actions are going to increase the gap between the rich and the poor. One of the first things he did was to give himself and his cabinet a big raise. At the same time he refuses to raise the minimum wage," Marcelino said.