Throne speech highlights healthcare and other key election platform commitments; the new government introduces its first Bill to formally recognize Louis Riel as Manitoba’s first Premier.
TREATY 1 AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, HOMELAND OF THE RED RIVER MÉTIS, WINNIPEG—This week, Premier Kinew and the NDP government kicked off a new session in Manitoba with their first Speech from the Throne and the introduction of the first few Bills. In a time when so much of the news is grim and difficult, Premier Kinew used this first week to celebrate and bring much needed hope to Manitobans.
On a day traditionally marked by pomp and ceremony, the new government brought fresh energy to the proceedings, with Métis fiddlers Morgan Grace and Keith Ginther welcoming guests to the Legislature building and the Whitehorse Drum Group performing from the floor of the Chamber to open and close the proceedings.
The speech itself reiterated many of the government’s key platform and post-election commitments, with a focus on fixing healthcare. This included a new promise to launch a healthcare listening tour, plans to expand surgical capacity at several hospitals in Winnipeg and Brandon, and improve MRI access in northern Manitoba.
The government also outlined their vision for tackling climate change, including support for families purchasing an electric vehicle, building Manitoba Hydro, and standing up a strong hydrogen industry. They also announced a new funding commitment from the Federal government that will help Manitoba families make the switch to more green, affordable home energy by installing geothermal heat pumps. The NDP committed to fund this switch for 5,000 homes during the election.
The speech also touched on commitments related to safer communities and harm reduction, education to combat anti-semitism and Islamophobia, a new Premier’s Business and Jobs team, and establishing Orange Shirt Day as a provincial statutory holiday.
The government has returned for a short session with a targeted legislative agenda. The NDP’s first Bill will recognize Louis Riel as the province’s first Premier. The government then introduced legislation to temporarily eliminate the provincial gas tax for at least six months beginning in January 2024. This was one of the NDP’s key affordability commitments during the election.
The government has signaled that Manitobans can expect further announcements on housing, labour relations, and agriculture before the House rises in early December.
Like many new governments before them, this team has begun the work of managing expectations, indicating that the province’s fiscal situation is worse than previously understood, with more detail to be revealed in the upcoming second-quarter financial report. Manitoba Hydro’s second-quarter report, released this week, revealed a $600 million reduction in their net income when compared to the previous report only six months ago.
While the new government has not indicated plans for healthcare legislation in the short term, they are making policy changes. Minister of Health Uzoma Asagwara is winding up the previous government’s Diagnostic and Surgical Recovery Task Force, redirecting the funding for this group – which faced significant media scrutiny and criticism as an added layer of bureaucracy – into Shared Health. At the same time, to support the system, the Minister announced funding for hospitals in Winnipeg, Selkirk and Brandon to hire additional weekend staff, with further health announcements promised next week.
The Legislature will open its doors to the public on December 2 for the Holiday Open House – a longstanding popular tradition that ended during the pandemic. At every opportunity, Manitoba’s new government is working to underscore the theme of the Speech from the Throne, “a new day” – and a new approach to reconciliation and unity across Manitoba.
If you have questions about what this new government means for your sector, business, or association, please reach out to the Counsel Public Affairs team: