Varied reviews for Throne Speech, northern impact

Reaction to the provincial government’s Speech from the Throne was mixed following the opening of the fourth session of the 41st Manitoba Legislature on Nov. 20.

Manitoba Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon laid out the ruling Progressive Conservative party’s vision for the next legislative session. That vision includes some decisions and priorities with a direct impact on northern Manitoba.

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In the speech, Filmon voiced support for the Look North initiative, saying that a new economic development strategy will respond to recommendations from the Look North Steering Committee.

Paramount in the government’s ideas for the north is mineral and resource development, said Filmon, who discussed the ongoing discussion for a mineral development protocol between mining companies, the province and First Nations groups.

“Achieving clarity for both communities and industry with respect to engagement and consultations is the key to creating jobs and opportunity within this sector,” Filmon said, adding that the province will be “seeking ongoing dialogue with the mining industry through a liaison committee on mining and exploration” that would advise groups on planning, building community relationships and dealing with abandoned mine sites.

At Flin Flon’s city council meeting on Nov. 20, Mayor Cal Huntley said he saw a positive message from the speech and the pledges regarding mining.

“We’re hopeful that will be an indication that we will have much more of a focus toward mining in the north. They certainly do indicate that in the Throne Speech. It was encouraging. It was specific,” said Huntley.

Senior care was also a subject touched on in the speech. Filmon pledged the government would open an additional 1,200 personal care beds by 2025.

Considering Flin Flon’s long wait times for senior care and aging population, Huntley said the announcement was welcome news.

“There’s such a waiting list. There’s a need, and we want to keep seniors in our community. They’re a stable part of the community, and they’re wonderful to have around. They make our community a very good place,” he said.

The Throne Speech also mentioned continued efforts to encourage tourism in Manitoba, saying that tourism revenue within the province increased by more than $100 million over the past year. A new provincial tourism strategy will form a key component of the government’s promised economic plan.

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