It’s been a very busy week, even though the Manitoba Legislature finished session last week. On Monday, the province released its report into poverty in Manitoba. To say it is disappointing is an understatement. It is really misleading.
The measurements they include start in different years and they don’t provide any context. If things are better or worse, there is no indication how much better or worse they have gotten. For example, if minimum wage went up by a penny in the last 10 years, it would still be considered progress.
With housing, this is a real problem. Ten years ago, there was not enough public housing. Now, there is some more - but still not enough. During those ten years, housing numbers went up - then were cut back as the NDP and PCs alike started to sell off hundreds of units. So today, we have fewer affordable housing units than there were five years ago.
On Tuesday, I flew to Ottawa with Manitoba Liberal Caucus members Cindy Lamoureux (Burrows) and Jon Gerrard (River Heights).
Our first meeting was with the Prairie and Northern Caucus - Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the territories. It was a fascinating discussion, especially about the serious challenges facing Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Our second meeting was with the Policy Advisor for Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development. We shared what we have heard from chambers of commerce and entrepreneurs across Manitoba - we need better access to capital for entrepreneurs who are looking to scale up.
We also talked about how in an economy where innovation and ideas are so important, Canada needs to do a better job of protecting the intellectual property and patents of Canadian inventors.
Jon Gerrard met with the policy advisor for Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna, and talked about how Manitoba could play a key role in removing carbon pollution from the atmosphere and storing it.
Cindy Lamoureux and I met with Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. It was an excellent discussion. We raised the issue of meth and gang intervention to prevent drug use.
We all know that the issue of children in the care of CFS is one of the most important issues to address for the sake of children, future generations and our province.
Over the years, many children in the care of CFS have been exploited by adults, but it is too hard to prosecute them. We proposed amending the Criminal Code to crack down on child exploitation. The Minister was very receptive and we will follow up.
On Wednesday night, we attended the Federal Liberal Caucus dinner with Manitoba’s Liberal MPs. Over 2700 people were on hand - MPs from all across Canada, Ministers, staff, and supporters. We had many excellent conversations.
Our win in St. Boniface and becoming an official party has not gone unnoticed!
Our last meeting, Thursday morning, was with Seniors’ Minister Filomena Tassi. We talked about the need for seniors housing, the challenge for seniors in debt, pharmacare, access to life-saving drugs and a national diabetes strategy. We also mentioned the challenges of French language services for seniors in Manitoba.
I will be spending a couple of days with family and friends over the weekend, but we look forward to getting back to Winnipeg and St. Boniface.
BUY LOCAL CHALLENGE
How much Manitoba can you fit under your Christmas tree?
Here’s a fun buy local challenge! To all of you who celebrate Christmas, let’s see “How much Manitoba you can fit under your Christmas tree?”
Gifts that are made or sold by independent local entrepreneurs, artists or businesses.
I hope that you will take the challenge!