Skip to content

The Council of Canadians opposes Bill 24 in Manitoba, supports public drinking water

The Manitoba Legislative Building.

The Council of Canadians is concerned by legislation introduced by Premier Brian Palliser that would reduce the number of drinking water infrastructure inspections and promote public-private partnerships (P3s)

CBC reports, “Bill 24 [The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act, 2017] eliminates or amends a number of acts the government has deemed ‘outdated, contradictory, complicated or ineffective’, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said [on March 16]. The amendment to the Drinking Water Safety Act reduces the frequency with which a public or semi-public water supplier has to test their infrastructure.”

The article then highlights, “Wolseley NDP MLA Rob Altemeyer plans to fight the bill. ‘I don’t understand how you can claim weakening health protections for anyone who drinks water is unnecessary red tape’, he said.”

Altemeyer is a former member of The Council of Canadians Board of Directors.

The omnibus Bill 24 legislation would also repeal the Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act.

The article explains, “The bill [would] end a requirement that major capital projects done in partnership with the private sector first undergo a study to compare the benefits of doing them entirely with public funds. But that comparison process is necessary and should remain in place, [says] the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Kelly Moist, president of CUPE Manitoba, [says], ‘These projects often take public funds and oversight and turn them over to a for-profit entity. Why would any government want to repeal a law that protects the public interest and public funds?'”

In addition, the omnibus bill would repeal the Health Services Act, the Manitoba Natural Resources Development Act, end the requirement that the government report on the status of the province’s ecological reserves every five years, and end restrictions on hog barn and manure storage construction.

NDP MLA Andrew Swan, who represents the Winnipeg riding of Minto, says, “The government has now introduced an omnibus bill that’s going to start weakening regulations that protect our drinking water, that protect our lakes and our rivers and that is going to weaken environmental regulation. It’s shocking that the government has decided, under the guise of cutting red tape, to put Manitobans at risk.”

Winnipeg-based Council of Canadians organizer Brigette DePape will be at the “Communities not Cuts!” protest outside the Manitoba Legislative Building on Saturday April 22 starting at 11 am. The promotion for that protest says, “You are invited to join this family and child-friendly event to stand up for your community, and to stand against provincial budget cuts and legislative changes.”

Major cuts are expected to be announced in the provincial budget which will be tabled on Tuesday April 11.