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Cutting overnight snow-clearing is clear folly

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Governments don’t make good decisions when they are forced to correct previous bad decisions. After years of unfettered spending by the NDP, which has resulted in record deficits, debt and unbalanced budgets, each department in the Manitoba government was told to cut back on spending.

The department of Infrastructure and Transportation made a bad decision to cut the night shift of snow clearing on major highways from its budget to save some money.

Although it may have been that many nights snow clearing equipment was out on provincial highways when there was no need for it, it is very difficult to predict the weather in Manitoba in winter. We in rural Manitoba know that when the wind blows, highways and roads can become blocked and dangerous in a very short time.

Perhaps this was a knee-jerk reaction and not well thought out. There are many social and economic costs that could result from snow-blocked roads not being cleared on time. Consider the possibility of car accidents and the resultant heath care costs and auto insurance costs. The Manitoba Trucking Association was critical of this decision because of the delays truckers might experience. This is major business in Manitoba. People in rural Manitoba who work in the city might be unable to get to work, which has an impact on the bottom line of businesses and, ultimately, consumers.

The decision was apparently made to save money. But to cancel a shift and still provide the service will require staff to be on standby or work overtime. That results in time-and-a-half or double-time pay and is disruptive to people planning their time. It will be interesting to know if, in fact, any money is saved in the end. And that will not be known until we see what the rest of the winter brings. We all know the notorious month of March and the snow storms we have seen in past.

We also need to factor in the number of press releases that the NDP have been sending out each time a flake falls to assure the public that although it cut services, there will still be services. Maybe this is all an exercise in self-promotion!

Seriously, the NDP could done something other than cut snow-clearing shifts in winter in Manitoba.

Here are a few examples; The NDP kept on a retired MLA, Bonnie Korzeniowski, giving her a budget of $200,000 annually to act as our military envoy. The trouble with that is she did this as part of her MLA duties when she was an MLA. Does the government have no sitting MLA who could take over these duties? Of course it does, but this was part of a deal she made when she left politics.

Another example: The NDP wants you and me to pay them a per-vote subsidy to finance their political party. We don’t know exactly what that amount will be yet, but it will be over a million dollars every four years. Why should taxpayers finance a political party? Manitoba will be the only province to get an election finance rebate AND a per vote subsidy — an additional cost which does not need to happen.

The NDP have dug themselves into a financial hole and are desperate to save some money. I would suggest they look seriously in the mirror to find ways to cut spending rather than make more bad decisions which have a huge negative impact on the people of this province.

Mavis Taillieu is the Progressive Conservative MLA for Morris

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