Province to introduce bills that may freeze public-sector wages, hike university tuition

The province is set to introduce a half dozen bills on Monday that may control public-sector wages, reduce the number of health care bargaining units and possibly raise post-secondary tuition fees.

The Public Services Sustainability Act is part of the Tories’ plan to start chipping away at the province’s billion-dollar deficit.

The government cited parliamentary protocol in refusing to provide details in advance of the bills being introduced in the legislature Monday. But the bill’s titles line up with promises made during last year’s election campaign and plans outlined broadly last fall.

READ MORE: 6 promises Manitoba Premier-elect Brian Pallister made during campaign

The bills are expected to be the outcome of Premier Brian Pallister’s promise in last November’s throne speech to control the growth of public-sector wages. In talks with public-sector union leaders, government representatives have floated possibilities such as unpaid days off, wage freezes and reduced pension benefits.

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“You could say their true colours are beginning to emerge,” Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said of the Conservatives.

“There’s no doubting (Premier Brian Pallister’s) ideological orientation. It’s very much towards less government, lower taxes, deregulation, more emphasis on job creation and … the creation of wealth and less on the redistribution of wealth.”

The government will table a number of other big bills as well.

RELATED: ‘Manitoba is staring down a $1 billion deficit’: Finance Minister

The Local Vehicles for Hire Act could improve the chances of Winnipeg getting a ride sharing service like Uber. Another bill could lift the cap on how much universities can raise tuition fees.

With files from the Canadian Press

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