COVID-19 recovery, health care main points in Manitoba throne speech

·2 min read

WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is promising to improve health care and offer more help to people hurt by COVID-19, while hinting at further distancing herself from her predecessor.

The Progressive Conservative government’s annual throne speech Tuesday, which lays out the province’s agenda in general terms for the year ahead, promises 400 new nurse training positions with a practical nursing program for up to 20 students in the north.

“Our nursing strategy targets the nursing shortage and increases training spaces,” said the speech, read in the chamber by Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon.

There are also promises of a new strategy to help seniors stay in their homes longer and a plan to tackle homelessness to be released this winter.

“The pandemic exposed gaps in our long-term care here and across Canada, and drew our focus to seniors who were not receiving the dignified care they deserve," said the speech.

The speech reiterates an earlier promise to set up a group that would include health-care workers to help tackle a backlog in surgeries caused by COVID-19.

The government says many sectors of the economy will continue to require support as Manitoba emerges from the pandemic, and there will be new measures to boost immigration and make investments in mining and venture capital more attractive.

Stefanson, who was sworn is as premier Nov. 2, is also marking more of a departure from former premier Brian Pallister, who resigned in September after Tory support in opinion polls plummeted.

The Tories earlier killed Pallister’s plan to eliminate elected school boards. The throne speech says a new effort will be made to improve the education system, and previous plans to reform rural health care will be re-examined to ensure equitable access.

The government is also promising to “re-engage” with colleges and universities on funding formulas. Pallister’s plan to make the funding performance-based ran into widespread opposition.

“What I’m hearing from Manitobans is they want a departure from maybe the style and the way things were done in the past,” Stefanson told reporters.

“I think there have been many good things that have been done that we can build on … but I think there’s a better way to do things and a more collaborative way to do things.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2021.

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

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