The provincial government is unveiling its ‘Path to Progressing Together’ plan in its latest throne speech, sharing with the public an idea of what they can expect in the coming future.
Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon opened the fourth session in the 42nd legislature on Tuesday afternoon in Winnipeg by reading the speech from the throne. This is the first session opening for newly-minted Premier Heather Stefanson in the leadership seat.
Filmon expects this to be her last throne speech reading.
Janice Filmon has fulfilled the role of Lieutenant Governor with strength, grace and humanity. She is among the finest individuals to ever hold that office. I wish her God’s blessing for health and happiness as she begins the final stretch as Manitoba’s royal representative. pic.twitter.com/JAnDecDRXO— Kelvin Goertzen (@MLAGoertzen) November 23, 2021
”As we continue to address the challenges posed by COVID-19, we are also focused on creating a stronger, more sustainable healthcare system, providing greater supports for families, seniors and vulnerable Manitobans, improving education and training opportunities, and laying the groundwork to foster investment, job creation and economic growth," Stefanson says in a statement.
Eighteen initiatives are being presented, including addiction and mental health supports, improving education, and Indigenous-focused plans.
“Our government is embarking on a path in a new direction; we are committed to working side by side with all Manitobans in the spirit of collaboration, co-operation and reconciliation."
The speech from the throne began with a land acknowledgement, with Filmon reading "side by side, we will work together to build a better Manitoba. A stronger, healthier, and more inclusive province with a brighter future for us all."
The throne speech was leaked the day earlier, which Stefanson was "entirely unacceptable." She says there will be consequences, but as for what they will be, she sternly says "we will see."
The speech says the PC government has a willingness to listen and engage. Stefanson says they need to make a balanced, practical, and responsible approach to the budget, unsure of what the economy will look like during the pandemic.
Proposed key initiatives
- working with Indigenous leaders, elders, knowledge keepers, families and community members to advance shared goals and seek reconciliation, healing and a path forward together
- working with community partners to meet the needs of single parents, Indigenous youth and people with disabilities
The premier says she has spoken with grand chiefs in Manitoba and Manitoba Metis Federation's president saying "I know going forward our government will continue to listen to them," Stefanson says in the Tuesday press conference.
- improving the kindergarten to Grade 12 education system to better prepare students for their future
- promoting collaboration between advanced education and training institutions and employers to provide Manitobans with the right skills to succeed that meet the evolving needs of the labour market
- ensuring Indigenous and new Canadian students are given opportunities to participate in postsecondary education and training
Stefanson says parents are looking for improved quality and better outcomes.
"We want to listen to Manitobans moving forward to see what they want to see in their education system," she says. "They want an education system that is there for their kids, they want a quality education system."
They will be looking at the K-12 review, identifying what was highlighted in the report.
- removing barriers that delay Manitobans from getting the medical care they urgently need
- addressing the nursing shortage with increased and targeted training opportunities
- improving access and co-ordination of mental health and addictions services
Stefanson says Manitobans can expect to hear news of a surgery backlog task force "very very soon." Many surgeries continue to be put on pause as Manitoba is in its fourth COVID-19 wave. She says they have had meetings with people across the country, asking the Prime Minister to call a meeting discussing Canada Health transfers to fund critical areas.
"I think there are discussions across the country," Stefanson says, calling on the federal government to help. "We will need to work very well and very closely with our counterparts across the country."
She says the province needs to listen to rural municipalities, particularly about healthcare access.
- expanding supports for those experiencing family violence
- implementing a renewed seniors strategy so aging Manitobans are able to stay safe in their own homes, close to family and their personal support systems, for as long as they choose
- accelerating the implementation of the federal-provincial agreement on early learning and child care
- partnering with the federal government to boost immigration and provincial nominee programs
In Winnipeg, homelessness and addiction needs have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stefanson says to expect a plan regarding these situations, saying it is being taken very seriously.
"I know that the Minister of Families, Minister of Justice, others, will be working together with downtown safety partners, other partnerships within the community, to ensure that we tackle and establish a homeless strategy."
- advancing the Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery
- implementing a venture capital framework to attract international investment and help businesses grow at all stages of their development
- preserving nature and heritage spaces, and promoting tourism and the arts and culture sector throughout Manitoba
- committing to a renewed partnership with the Government of Canada to advance shared priorities and opportunities including transportation and strategic infrastructure, agriculture and food production
- modernizing and expanding the City of Winnipeg’s waste-water treatment system
- creating a greener Manitoba with an energy policy framework to explore innovative technologies that will reduce emissions and stimulate the economy