Manitoba Tories say provincial government’s communications budget out of control

Manitoba PC Leader Brian Pallister

Credits: Halstead/Winnipeg Sun/QMI Agency


WINNIPEG - The Manitoba Tories say the NDP government's marketing and communication staffing numbers and costs have spun out of control.

Numbers obtained by the Tories show the cost for NDP communication specialists has increased 60% since 1999, as the staffing has ballooned from 119 people to 192.

The cost to employ these people - 15 of whom make more than $100,000 annually - now sits at $12.5 million a year.

The Tories say the health department went from four communications specialists in 1999 to 41 today. In post-secondary communications, staffing increased from 20 people in 1999 to 41.

The PCs say Greg Sellinger's ruling NDP are using these staffers to spin for the government.

"In too many cases, the ministers of this government use these people as buffers between themselves and the answers they should be giving to Manitobans about important issues," PC Leader Brian Pallister said.

Colin Craig, Prairie director for the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, says the increase comes at a time when neighbouring Saskatchewan has cut 1,300 civil service positions in the last three years.

"The reality is we can't afford it. There's no need for all these staff positions," he said.

The NDP called the Tory numbers "completely inaccurate" Tuesday, saying there haven't been communications people added since the Tories were last in power in 1999.

"If you're calling people who talk about HIV and prevention of public health disasters communication spinners, then you have a problem," said Dave Chomiak, minister of innovation, energy, and mines.

- With files from Nicole Dube

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