Manitoba

Pallister won't follow Wall's lead on cuts to overall public sector worker compensation

Premier Brian Pallister said Manitoba will not be going down the same road as Saskatchewan to tackle the province’s deficit.

Sask. premier wants to cut overall public sector worker compensation by 3.5% to tackle deficit

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he won't follow Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's plan to cut the deficit by setting a target to cut overall public sector worker compensation by 3.5 per cent. (CBC)

Premier Brian Pallister said Manitoba will not be going down the same road as Saskatchewan to tackle the province's deficit.

On Tuesday, Premier Brad Wall announced Saskatchewan has set a target to cut overall public sector worker compensation by 3.5 per cent, which will impact everyone from teachers to nurses. He said the cuts will hopefully save $250 million, helping to pay off a $1.2-billion deficit.

All Saskatchewan MLAs will also take a 3.5 per cent pay cut.

"Premier Wall has got to do what he feels is best for the people of Saskatchewan. I'm going to do, and our government is going to do, what is best for the people of Manitoba," Pallister said.

Last week, Progressive Conservative MLAs agreed to freeze their wages until the next election, with Pallister saying his caucus was sending a signal that everyone has to play a part helping fight the province's billion-dollar deficit.

The Tory government has said it plans to curb the growth in public-sector salaries, but Pallister has not revealed details about how.

"I've asked for all hands on deck and we are working diligently with our front-line representatives and senior labour positions of our province to try to come up with a strategy that allows us to protect our workers, protect the services they provide and maintain the quality of service that Manitobans deserve to have and improve it ultimately," Pallister told reporters on Tuesday.

While it is "exciting to learn from what others have done," Pallister said the province will adopt strategies "that were made in Manitoba for the best interests of Manitobans."

Wall has also announced he's no longer taking a $40,000 top-up from the Saskatchewan Party.

Pallister and his cabinet have been criticized for a pay increase that happened before the wage freeze was announced. Pallister will get $71,000 above his salary as an MLA because of a clause in Manitoba's balanced budget legislation which allows for a year's grace period for incoming governments to avoid salary penalties and still run a deficit.

When asked about Wall's rejection of the top-up, Pallister said he doesn't get any additional privileges from his party and pointed back to the wage freeze.

"We demonstrated that we believe the tone at the top is important, we will continue to do that," he said.

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