The pre-budget consultations are underway. Provincial officials met with Thompson residents and stakeholders to facilitate budget consultations. But it was clear that the PCs are not taking the North seriously as they only came north a few weeks before the budget is set to be presented. If the PCs wanted meaningful consultation with the North they would have been here long before now. We in the North are not just a checkbox.
Short notice, limited advertisement and limited discussion time characterized this year’s budget consultations. I believe this government needs to start taking our concerns seriously and actively support our community’s right to participate in life-defining matters, such as budget consultations.
Many individuals were not satisfied with the notice and the manner in which the talks were conducted. They were held at a time of day when the majority of northerners are typically at work. Therefore, many people were unable to attend this meeting and provide valuable input in these discussions.
It’s no secret that there is an epidemic of underfunding in the North in all areas like health, infrastructure and economic development.
For example, the Pallister government has left northern communities plagued by job loss and whole industries threatened. The North has lost mining jobs, putting families and communities into poverty. They then decided to withhold funds from the Mining Community Reserve Fund (MCRF) that should have been redistributed to northern communities and froze the Community Economic Development Fund. The Pallister government’s track record in investing in the North is troubling.
The government also put an end to the MCRF and replaced it with the Manitoba Mineral Development Fund (MMDF). The MMDF, which will be administered by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce – another example of the government foregoing their role to govern – does not ensure the communities directly affected will receive funds. The government should be preserving the MCRF and administer it separately from the MMDF to promote economic growth in Northern Manitoba.
The North continues to be an afterthought for the premier and his minister. Their failure to engage citizens in the North is disappointing. I believe this government can do better, and must do better.
I, along with my NDP colleagues, are here to listen to northern families because we value this region and the people who live here. Feel free to contact me at 204-677 2744 if you have any questions or concerns or stop by my office on 402-79 Selkirk Avenue.