WINNIPEG -- Premier Brian Pallister said some layoffs occurred in the public sector last month as the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Manitoba economy.

During a media availability Monday morning, Pallister was asked about reports Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) had laid off 60 workers at facilities across the province.

In an email from MPI sent Monday afternoon, the organization said it has not laid off any staff at this time.

Pallister said at Crown corporations, there are “comprehensive strategies” underway for public sector employees and employment.

“I understand from last month’s labour stats that over 95 per cent of the job loss were in the private sector, and less than five per cent in the public sector were at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, primarily at the casinos,” he said.

The province closed casinos on March 17 as a precaution to help slow the spread of the virus.

Pallister said there will need to be partnership and solidarity moving forward with the province’s labour force.

“Clearly, the frontline is the priority right now, and it’s going to stay that way for some months, it looks like,” he said.


Pallister also said he had been speaking with Manitoba Public Insurance regarding rebates for customers to assist during COVID-19.

“We know that there have been rebates offered in a variety of provinces who do not have public insurance, through their various private sector companies, because of the reality that they’ve had reduced claims,” he said. “I wouldn’t suggest this is off the table for consideration.”

Last month, MPI said they’ve seen a 20 per cent reduction in the number of motor vehicle collisions in the first three weeks of March.

Allstate and Aviva are among the private insurance companies who have offered rebates to drivers who aren’t using their vehicles.

Brian Smiley, a spokesperson with MPI, said in an email the company is waiving interest and late fees on missed payments.

“A number of other options are being discussed at our executive level, but nothing can be announced as discussions are on-going,” Smiley wrote.