By: Graham Lane
Manitobans welcomed a new Government on April 19th, looking for new direction and willing
to give the new government some time to find a way out of the mess left to it by the NDP.
Yet many were disappointed with the limited policy substance in the mandate letters given to
Premier Pallister’s ministers. Manitobans looking for a sound path out of ever-increasing provincial
debt are disappointed by the eight-year time horizon outlined in the government’s
first budget. With a $14-billion budget, surely deficit elimination can come earlier. Transformation
is needed, and with a solid majority in the legislature it should be delivered.
Manitoba Forward suggests three small policy steps that could be taken immediately, to signal
a new policy environment for those eagerly waiting.
The NDP implemented regulations based more on Facebook opinions than science. The urban
ban on pesticides (approved for use by Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency) is one
of those foolish opinion-based policies. Immediate repeal of the regulations would send a
strong signal that the new government will rely on science when regulating health and safety.
What would this signal offer? Companies, then-knowing provincial regulations will be based on
sound science, will be more likely to invest.If they believe that regulations will follow the
whims of the internet, they go elsewhere. Removal of the pesticide ban will signal to investors
that Manitoba is a safe place to put their money, while helping to preserve our parks
and recreation areas.
Our healthcare system needs productive work.The previous government had seventeen years
to end hallway medicine and reduce wait times, but failed miserably. Reform will take time
and be difficult, but the new government should send signals that it will move quickly in the
The new government should signal it will not accept the status quo by announcing a review
into ways of splitting the provision of healthcare insurance (single pay or) from the provision
of healthcare services. This represents most effective public healthcare models in Europe
and, as well, how public car insurance works. MPI provides a single universal plan but policyholders
are free to select the auto-body shop of their choice when accidents happen.
The announcement of such a healthcare review would send a strong signal to the healthcare
sector that its current performance is not acceptable. We can, indeed must, do better on
Manitobans also need a signal on taxes. Best a strong signal that taxes in Manitoba will move
in the right direction, down. Manitobans should be promised that payroll taxes will be gone by
2020. The “tax on jobs” reduce take-home pay for employees, encourage employers to have
fewer staff and discourage investment. The announcement that payroll taxes will be eliminated
will open Manitoba up for new investment.
These are just three examples. There are others, not just on the future direction of hydro,
public service spending, education reform, but many more. But the PCs need to start sending
signals on sound regulatory policy, meaningful healthcare reform, and tax policies that encourage
employment – all a good place to start.
Manitobans are willing to give this government some time, but need a signal of a new direction
Graham Lane leads Manitoba Forward, supportive of sound public policy
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