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Pallister would eschew Hudak-like cuts to civil service

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Brian Pallister: civil service numbers 'out of whack'

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Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister says he’s not about to make the same mistake as his counterpart in Ontario when it comes to addressing the size of the civil service.

In the recent Ontario election, Conservative Leader Tim Hudak promised to slash 100,000 public sector jobs if elected. His party was trounced by the Liberals.

"I felt that the approach that was taken by the Ontario campaign team was irresponsible and dangerous, and it’s not the approach we would take," Pallister told reporters on Friday.

"Our approach has been to assure front line civil servants of their job security, recognizing that there is a need... to get the numbers (of civil servants) in position of relative balance in our province," he said.

The size of Manitoba’s public service, "administratively and bureaucratically," is out of whack with that of other provinces, Pallister said. "The data is clear on that."

But he said achieving an optimum size for the public sector will take time and can be done through attrition and re-prioritizing positions.

Pallister has vowed not to lay off front-line civil servants. He said the fact that about a third of civil servants are nearing retirement age allows government to downsize the civil service without layoffs.

Pallister made the comments in response to questions at a news conference he called to mark the looming first anniversary July 1 of the implementation of the PST increase in Manitoba.

The one-point increase — to eight per cent from seven — has taken close to $300 million out of Manitobans’ pockets over the past 12 months, he said, meaning they have less to spend on summertime outings and other items.

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