Minimum wage bill and others expected to pass before Manitoba legislature break

Politicians at the Manitoba legislature are expected to pass a number of bills into law Wednesday evening before starting the summer break. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Politicians at the Manitoba legislature were preparing to pass more than 20 bills into law Wednesday night, including one to increase the minimum wage, before breaking for the summer.

The bills, some of which were first put before the legislature last fall, also covered issues such as civilian oversight of police and security at the legislative building.

Read more: Manitoba proposes path to increase minimum wage above inflation

“We’ve had a robust legislative session … some (bills) to make life more affordable for Manitobans,” said Premier Heather Stefanson, referring to a bill that offered higher rebates on property taxes.

The minimum wage bill proposed giving the government authority to boost the hourly rate above the current formula, which adjusts it every October to match the inflation rate from the previous year.

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Under that formula, the wage is set to increase 40 cents to $12.35 an hour. Stefanson has said Manitoba needs to stay competitive with other provinces, and the government will decide on a new figure after consulting business and labour leaders.

Another bill set to go to a final vote would give additional powers to the Independent Investigation Unit, a civilian-led body that oversees police.

The unit would have more power to compel officers to co-operate with investigators.

Read more: Manitoba to boast Canada’s lowest minimum wage when rate increases in Saskatchewan

Other legislation would let the government ban certain activities — to be determined later by cabinet — from the legislature grounds.

Offenders could be evicted and face fines. Lengthy encampments were set up on or in front of the legislature grounds earlier this year.

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There were also bills on allowing electronic vote-counting during provincial elections, bringing in a public-sector wage freeze and ensuring personal security of political candidates by removing their home addresses from Elections Manitoba’s website.

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Other bills were not expected to go to a final vote until the legislature resumes in the fall, including one that would loosen restrictions on cosmetic use of lawn pesticides.

Another would cap electricity rates, although critics say it would shift some powers from the independent provincial regulator to the government.

A third would allow for more private alcohol sales by expanding the range of products sold by private vendors.

Read more: Manitoba’s premier says minimum wage must stay competitive

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The summer break will include a byelection Tuesday in the northern constituency of Thompson. The longtime NDP stronghold has been vacant since NDP MLA Danielle Adams died in a highway crash last December.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew missed the final two days of the spring sitting to help out the party’s campaign in Thompson.

The Progressive Conservative government has been trailing the Opposition New Democrats in opinion polls for more than a year. A provincial election is scheduled for Oct. 3, 2023.

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