Johnson says negotiators were ready to talk with teachers
Finance Minister Charlene Johnson downplayed the concerns over contract talks with teachers, saying a conciliator is a normal part of the bargaining process.
When the issue came up in the House of Assembly Tuesday, Johnson also flatly denied accusations she sent her people into negotiations without a mandate to discuss salary issues.
“Let me assure the public that there is a clear mandate, that we are committed to the negotiating process,” Johnson said. “There is a clear mandate on the table. This is the next step in the bargaining process.”
In response to questions from Liberal Leader Dwight Ball, Labour Relations Minister Darin King said he hasn't received a formal request from the teachers for conciliation, but when he gets it, he'll deal with it.
Bennett wants government to act on perceived ‘crime wave’
Liberal justice critic Jim Bennett wanted to know what the government is doing to combat rising organized crime and a spree of violent incidents — as evidenced, he said, by the two recent stabbings on George Street.
“I ask the minister: when does he plan to take this crime wave seriously and stop being soft on crime?” Bennett asked in question period Tuesday.
But Justice Minister Darin King said that the RNC specifically said Monday that the two stabbings do not constitute a crime wave.
“I draw the member’s attention to The Telegram this morning that the police are actually reporting there is not an increase in violent crime in this province as the member alleges,” King said. “Now, those are not my words; those are the words of the chief of police and one of the superintendents with the RNC, that, if anything, violent crime is lower than it has been.”
Michael wants more protection for temporary foreign workers
For the second day in a row, New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael started off her time in question period talking about temporary foreign workers.
On Monday, Michael wanted to know how many temporary foreign workers are in the province and what the government is doing to protect them against abuses by employers.
Kevin O’Brien, minister responsible for immigration, said that there are about 3,000 temporary foreign workers in the province right now, and they have all the same right under the province’s labour laws that Canadian citizens have.
On Tuesday, Michael came armed with more questions.
“Workers themselves have to report abuses, which we hear they are afraid to do. Manitoba’s Worker Recruitment and Protection Act requires employers to register their temporary foreign workers and submit to regular proactive inspections,” Michael said. “I ask the premier: when will this government change our Labour Standards Act to protect temporary foreign workers who do not feel free to speak out?”
This time, it was Justice Minister Darin King who responded, saying that people in the government are responsible for enforcement, but responding to complaints is the best way to do that.
“We do have people in the field, of course, who are available to do inspections,” King said. “The Labour Standards Act is no different than many pieces of legislation, including legislation with the RCMP and the RNC. Criminal activity or wrongdoing is often, in most cases, complaint driven. We have no other way to follow up and investigate unless somebody makes us aware of it or makes a complaint. That is how the system works.”