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Week in Review: Cannabis Revenue, Education Review, MPI Slashes Support for Non-profits

It is bitterly COLD for the next few days. The Main Street Project is running very low on coffee. A hot cup of coffee not only provides some warmth but it also brings comfort and conversation during this cold snap. If you are able to help, donations of food or clothing can be dropped off at 75 Martha Street.  I stopped by MSP to donate some coffee, toothpaste, hand warming pads, toques, underwear (men and women’s)

BRANDON VISIT On Tuesday, I hit the road and headed west to Brandon where I met with Brandon's Mayor, Rick Chrest. We talked about everything from infrastructure, policing, addictions and cannabis revenues.

After my meeting with the Mayor I interviewed with the Brandon Sun to discuss Premier Pallister's inaccurate claim that the province will see no revenue from cannabis sales. BRANDON SUN: Lamont disputes Pallister's take on cannabis revenue

Manitoba Liberals asked whether the Pallister government had any evidence or studies to back up their claim, and Freedom of Information (FIPPA) documents show there wasn’t any. FIPPA documents showed that the Pallister government has never asked for or received any analysis of the costs or revenue before and after cannabis was legalized. The Finance Department has never done a study to calculate estimates for revenue. In contrast, Manitoba Liquor, Lotteries and Cannabis’ own estimates suggest the Crown Corporation’s revenues alone could be $12.8 million in the first year and nearly $100-million within five years. EDUCATION REVIEW The Province has announced a review of Manitoba's education system. The announcement is a bit puzzling because in May of 2016 and a year later, former Minister of Education Ian Wishart said a review was already underway. Now, the Province has appointed a *new commission* with almost no representation from K-12 education, and the new Minister is prejudging the findings. History shows that getting rid of school boards or amalgamating them will cost more, and doesn’t improve results. WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Province wants sweeping public-education review to 'ignite change' Lamont took issue with the backgrounds of the commission appointees, most of whom haven't worked in Manitoba's K-12 education system. “I think if you just look at the qualifications of people involved, it’s overwhelmingly people who work in finance and (human resources) -- and nobody from education. So if it were more about education, you should have a wider range of people in order to be able to give that argument any credibility." Lamont didn't object to a K-12 review, however, noting the education system does need improvements. "I don’t dispute that. But it needs to be about the quality of education and the kind of education our kids are getting and not just about saving money. But that seems to be the single most important thing when everyone you pick -- it’s a rainbow of Tory donors, candidates and people who work in finance and HR." EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS The Pallister government needs to step up and fulfill its long-overdue promise to improve Child Care in Manitoba, including making sure that workers can earn enough to pay their bills.  In the PCs 2016 platform, Pallister promised to address chronic problems with low wages, staffing shortages and recruitment practices under the previous NDP government. Nearly three years later, the government has yet to act. Students from Red River College’s Early Childhood Education program (ECE) say their current $13/hour wage is not enough for them to pay their bills. The only way students and workers can get by is with a second job and that extra work is resulting in burnout, people quitting, and even more staff shortages. While enrolled in the ECE program, students make $13.00/hour, work extensive hours, all while trying to finish the two-year diploma program. Upon graduation, their wage will increase to $15.00 an hour. Early childhood educators plan, organize and implement programs for infants and children up to 12 years of age. They teach music, math and literacy to children. They also work with new parents on how to teach their own children. CTV WINNIPEG: Watch here. MPI CUTS FUNDING

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: MPI slashes support for non-profits Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the situation fits a pattern of behaviour for the current government, where it puts pressure on Crown corporations to cut funding, only to deny the province is responsible once the public learns what’s happened. "The government has an obligation to not just hand money to businesses, but to invest in the community. I think partly this is just part of their entire mindset," Lamont said. "They want value for money, and to them, for some reason, that means giving more money to private businesses. "It’s a really frustrating and strange mix because there’s a real need for that kind of community investment... To only focus on business partnerships is contrary to what these organizations should be doing because there are things of value that are hard to make a profit on." VOLUNTEERS NEEDED The St. Boniface constituency office is a host site for the CRA Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. We’re looking for volunteers to assist with simple tax returns for low income people. No experience is required; online training will be provided. We’re looking for commitments of weekly shifts (daytime or evening) for the months of March and April. We will arrange the schedule around Click here for more information on the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Please contact Julia at if you have any questions or would like to sign up.

If you believe in what we are doing, please SHARE this with your friends! All the best,  Dougald Lamont  MLA St. Boniface, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party

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