Premier Brian Pallister says Manitoba has improved, but there’s still a long way to go.  

Pallister delivered his State of the Province speech to roughly 1,300 business community members today at a luncheon hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.  

The main topics Pallister discussed included a new approach to Manitoba’s economic development strategy, the ongoing restructuring of the province’s health care system, the importance of continuing reconciliation efforts and preparing for the upcoming legalization of marijuana.

Pallister’s main announcement was that former Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce CEO Dave Angus and local entrepreneur Barb Gamey will lead a new approach to economic development.

Pallister says the main difference between this new team and the existing Premier’s Enterprise Team is this group will have specific, time sensitive goals and objectives, whereas the Enterprise Team is more advisory.

“This is going to lead to economic coordination we’ve never had in the past,” Pallister said. “What we’re after is better results and better outcomes. The province has invested in over 85 various economic initiatives, but with no focus.”

“We want better job creation opportunities for our province and we want to focus on areas where we have the opportunity to develop.”

Pallister says the province decided to create this new strategy after a government-commissioned report by Deloitte reviewed Manitoba’s economic development efforts.

According to the province, the report found a number of issues, including:

  • “a lack of clearly defined goals and objectives” in how the province funds outside partners in economic development
  • “significant areas of mandate overlap” reflecting a lack of co-ordination and synchronization of objectives; and
  • “limited…co-ordination across economic development programming” in the government

Opposition NDP leader Wab Kinew was not encouraged by the announcement.

He hoped the province would have a more defined vision of how they were going to create more jobs in Manitoba and ensure people who currently have jobs can keep them.

“Basically what they announced today is very similar to the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council, which has existed under previous governments so there wasn’t much substance,” Kinew said. “Manitoba’s economy faces a significant challenge right now. There’s a threat of northern job losses and technology change is coming in some of our biggest industries.”

“We really didn’t hear any concrete plans that are going to keep Manitobans working.”

Pallister says Angus and Gamey will set up a board for the initiative in the coming months and will report to the government at some point in the first half of 2018.

Angus, Gamey and other members of the new team will be working as volunteers, so there will be no salaries paid to team members, according to Pallister. He adds, however, the government may invest money in the research, development and implementation stages of the strategies the team develops.