WINNIPEG — Premier Brian Pallister said he doubts the hundreds of temporary layoffs at Manitoba Hydro will have an impact on service.
He noted that this largely has to do with the fact that the private sector has been severely impacted by COVID-19, and consequently Hydro doesn’t need to provide as much service as it normally does.
“I can only tell you that we’re in a pandemic and the fact of the matter is that every aspect of society is impacted by it,” said Pallister at a news conference on Tuesday.
“You can’t just turn away and hope it goes away. The reality is we’re in this together as a family. So every aspect of the private sector and the public sector is impacted.”
On Monday, Manitoba Hydro confirmed it’s temporarily laying off 600 to 700 employees beginning this week. A spokesperson for Hydro said this will provide about $11 million in workforce savings.
The premier noted that every aspect of society has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the province has done everything it can to minimize any negative impacts on public servants, and the cuts impact less than two per cent of the public sector.
“We’re trying to make sure that the vast majority of our public servants aren’t impacted in a negative way by any of the decisions that we have to make,” Pallister said.
When asked how cutting costs at Hydro will help the government, Pallister said if they don’t make the cuts it will deepen the period of recovery and increase Hydro’s debt.
“We’ve overbuilt at Hydro, so we have a massive debt there and therefore would create greater likelihood that Hydro wouldn’t be able to contribute to the recovery going forward” he said.
The premier highlighted the fact that Manitoba is going to draw on its employment insurance fund for some of its workers.
“We can’t just borrow our way out of this pandemic,” he said.
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