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Manitoba Tories to delay passage of bills, angering provincial labour group

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Manitoba's Opposition Progressive Conservatives are delaying passage of four bills at the legislature, prompting an angry response from a labour leader.

The legislature rules allow the Opposition each year to pick as many as five bills each spring, and push back voting until the fall.

This year, the Tories have chosen four, including a bill that would extend the leave for seriously injured or ill workers to 27 weeks from 17 weeks.

Tory labour critic Jodie Byram says the change would put Manitoba out of line with other provinces and more consultation with employers is needed.

Kevin Rebeck, head of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, says he is "disgusted" that the Tories are delaying a change that would provide more job protection for injured workers.

Another bill being delayed by the Tories would reduce the age at which children attend school.

The Tories say it's an issue of crowded classrooms, because the student population is growing and the NDP has put in limbo the construction of nine schools that the former Tory government was planning to build in partnership with the private sector.

The bill would reduce the age at which children can attend school to five from six, and the age at which attendance is compulsory to six from seven.

A third bill would undo some of the red-tape regulatory changes enacted by the former government.

The fourth bill would lift a ban on project labour agreements, which require non-unionized workers on large projects to be governed by the same rules and benefits as their unionized counterparts.

While the delay will push back voting on the four bills, it is very unlikely to prevent them from becoming law in the end, as the NDP government has a majority in the legislature with 34 of the 57 seats.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

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