Legislative Review June 2021
June 9, 2021
Earlier this month the Manitoba Legislature rose for the summer and will return to the continue the session in Fall 2021. Over the past months, Manitoban’s were made aware of the full scope of the government’s policy agenda after 19 critical bills were held back from public view and public discourse. Overall, it’s working Manitoban’s that will bear the effects of many of the bills that have passed this spring, and will potentially pass this fall.
There are a number of bills that have been enacted and those that are still on the table which will result in lost opportunity and decreased standard of living for the over 10,000 skilled trade professionals that we represent through our 13 affiliate unions. Below is a comprehensive summary of a few key bills that our organized labour members should be aware of.
If you are a member of a building trades union and are seeking more information on the issues below, please contact your local union representative.
ENACTED: BILL 55 – REDUCING RED TAPE AND IMPROVING SERVICES ACT, 2021
Hon. Mr. Goertzen. Minister of Legislative and Public Affairs – Steinbach
Bill 55 amends several Acts and repeals two Acts to reduce or eliminate regulatory requirements or prohibitions and to streamline government operations. This act repeals The Apprenticeship Employment Opportunities Act (Public Works Contracts).
Under this Policy, contractors were required to employ apprentices in order to be awarded a public works contract. Previously, public works contracts contained a commitment by the contractor to employ apprentices for the duration of the contract. The intent of this Policy was to ensure that public works contracts provide apprenticeship employment opportunities in order to expand Manitoba’s skilled workforce and contribute to strong economic growth in the province.
Position of Manitoba Building Trades:
THE GOVERNMENT OF MANITOBA HAS INCREASED APPRENTICESHIP RATIOS TO 2:1 TO CREATE MORE APPRENTICES, BUT REFUSES TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY.
In order to grow a local skilled trade workforce and give apprentices opportunity you need places for them to go to work, learn skills, and advance in their levels. As a major construction employer through public projects, this government has shown that they are not interested in investing in opportunities for workers. There is no planned investment in infrastructure. While governments across the world are green lighting at infrastructure projects to help boost the economy after COVID, the Government of Manitoba limits infrastructure project spending and backs out of an obligation to hire Apprentices.
ENACTED Bill 13 – The Public Sector Construction Projects Tendering Act
Hon. Mr. Schuler. Minister of Infrastructure – Springfield-Ritchot (East Winnipeg, Oakbank – Niverville)
This Bill concerns tenders issued by government and other public sector bodies in relation to construction projects. It prohibits the issuing of a tender that would require the successful bidder to employ unionized employees or non-unionized employees for work on the project. This bill makes community benefits agreements illegal in Manitoba.
Position of Manitoba Building Trades
This government is banning a labour management tool that promotes higher wages and priority opportunity for local and underrepresented workers. For example, If you worked at Keeyask, you were hired first instead of out of province workers and your wages were set at higher wage rates. This bill makes those arrangements illegal in the future. Additionally, the federal government has mandated that Community Employment Benefits be included on all major projects they fund. This bill means Manitoba will struggle to get federal money to build infrastructure. This means less jobs for tradespeople if nothing is being built.
ENACTED Bill 61 – Apprenticeship Amendment Act (Apprenticeship Governance Changes)
Hon. Mr. Eichler. Minister of Economic Development and Jobs – Lakeside (Interlake – Woodlands, Stonewall, Teulon)
This act changes the Manitoba Apprenticeship Board by repealing provincial advisory committees and standing committees; enabling the board to establish apprenticeship programs for voluntary trades and certification programs; enabling the board to establish standards of technical training and practical experience for certification programs; and enabling the minister rather than the board to designate trades and occupations and establish apprenticeship programs for compulsory certification trades.
Position of Manitoba Building Trades
We are in support of a revision to processes and systems within the apprenticeship system in Manitoba. This is something that industry has called for and has been needed to better meet labour requirements for the industry. We express concern that the Apprenticeship Manitoba Board will continue to made up of political appointments – not tradespeople with experience in the field and as an apprentice. If the board does not have tradespeople on it, they should not be responsible for setting training standards and practical requirements. Apprenticeship Manitoba should be governed by workers and employers, not political appointments. We hope to see an inclusive restructuring and a focus on better completion outcomes and higher employment rates for underrepresented groups through the apprenticeship system.
HELD OVER Bill 16 – Labour Relations Amendment Act
Hon. Mr. Fielding, Minister of Finance – Kirkfield Park (South of Portage/Unicity/St.James)
Bill 16 will tip the scales against workers and unions in favour of employers. This bill will illuminate ability for unions to trigger binding arbitration after 60 days of a strike or lockout, place financial red tape on public sector unions, make it easier for employers to fire workers on the picket line, make it easier to hold a decertification vote, make it hard to unionized in construction and give employers power to remove employees from bargaining units – directly influencing union voting power.
Position of Manitoba Building Trades
- By removing binding arbitration at 60 days, there will be more and longer strikes and lockouts. No one wants this. For example, the hydro worker strike would still be going on if it wasn’t for the 60 day limit.
- It will be easier for employers to fire striking workers even though it is their right, and their union’s right to take strike action.
- A unions money comes from their members and should be spent on their members. This act will have unions spending more on legal battles and drawn-out contract negotiations. These costs are being forced on the unions and their members by Bill 16.
For more information, please contact the Manitoba Federation of Labour
Support their campaign http://mfl.ca/stopbill16
HELD OVER Bill 64 – Education Modernization Act (Amalgamating school divisions)
Hon. Mr. Cullen. Minister of Education – Spruce Woods (Glenboro, Rivers, Souris, Wawanesa)
(Information provided by Fight Bill 64 and the Manitoba NDP)
Bill 64 is a 302-page piece of legislation that was introduced by the PC government in March 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill 64 replaces the existing Public Schools Act and completely rewrites all of the legislation concerning kindergarten to grade 12 education in Manitoba. Bill 64 gives the government, Premier and cabinet more control over schools with one centralized provincial education authority, made up of hand-picked political appointees making decisions for schools, students and teachers across the province.
- Instead of having local voices influencing what happens in our schools, all decisions relating to educational programming will be made by a government appointed ‘education authority’ with no understanding of local needs and zero accountability to families in our community.
- Just like when they changed healthcare, the PCs Bill 64 will be incredibly disruptive for the existing education system – it will result in chaos in the classroom and less attention for our kids.
- Poverty is the leading cause of poor educational results in Manitoba, and yet this bill makes almost no mention of poverty or its impacts on students. Too many Manitoban kids just don’t have the supports and tools they need to be successful in school, and this bill does absolutely nothing to help them succeed.