There can be no doubt the 2018 was a very challenging year for our region.
We faced job losses, shutdowns of critical infrastructure and an ongoing housing crisis. We saw people and communities facing huge challenges in dealing with inadequate healthcare and education funding.
As I travelled throughout our region the message from people was clear. Our region deserves better.
It was the message from the people of Churchill who, faced with the shutdown of the port and rail line, persevered. Thanks to a unique northern partnership the rail line is now open again and there is a real hope for the port.
In Thompson, the closure of the smelter and refinery was a blow to the community with the loss of hundreds of jobs. After working to extend the life of the smelter and refinery, the silence from provincial and federal government and the limited assistance to Thompson was striking.
Flin Flon also received more bad news about the potential closure of the mine in 2021.
What a contrast between the complete lack of support for our region's hard-hit resource communities and the billion-dollar plus bail out for the oil industry.
It was also clear that the housing crisis in our region is not only not lessening, it is increasing. The construction of new and renovated units is nowhere near enough to meet the need for housing. In community after community I visited it was clear to me that we continue to face Third World conditions right here in our region.
It is the same with healthcare and education. We are seeing inadequate funding and supports. In the case of Flin Flon we have seen this through the closure of the maternity ward by the province.
My message on behalf of the people and communities of our region has been clear. Our region and regions like it produce much of the wealth of this country. We deserve better. In 2018 I spoke out on behalf of our region time and time again. I challenged the government all the way up to the prime minister to respond to our concerns.
In 2019, I look forward to continuing to visit throughout our region. And I can guarantee you one thing: I will be just as vocal in speaking out for our region in 2019 as I was in 2018.