Graham Starmer, MCC President (l), makes a point with Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk

Graham Starmer, MCC President (l), makes a point with Finance Minister Rosann Wowchuk

For the fifth year in a row the MCC’s Pre-Budget submission championed the Chambers’ Great Jobs Agenda. 

“I am proud that for five years we have presented a consistent and comprehensive vision to enhance Manitoba’s prosperity in a knowledge-based economy that is increasingly global” explained MCC President Graham Starmer. “Indeed, these challenging times and a growing number of authorities are proving the wisdom of our advice.” 

The Great Jobs Agenda is an eight-point plan that places the goal of ‘great jobs’ as the focal point. In turn, the agenda argues that creativity is the key to great jobs.  

For the first time the MCC prepared a summary ‘Agenda Scorecard’ (click here to access) to help gauge the progress that has been made on the Great Jobs Agenda. 

The Government has not specifically endorsed the Great Jobs Agenda, but the scorecard confirms the Government has embarked on many initiatives that have served the elements the MCC has called for. 

Although the scorecard suggests additional work needs to be done on each and every element, the submission targeted two specific items: 

  • Tax Reform and
  • Working Together. 

Tax Reform:

Manitoba needs a new long-term tax vision, one that moves from principle, to practice, to a substantial and sweeping rethink: 

  • Principle: Commit in the 2010 Budget to the principle of tax relief focused on:

– low income Manitobans; and

– eliminating all profit insensitive taxes that penalize businesses for investing in people or capital. 

  • Practice: Fulfill the above commitments over a number of years in a fiscally responsible manner; and 
  • Rethink: Embark upon a fundamental review of Manitoba’s tax regime. 

The end of the Government’s last long-term tax strategy combined with these fiscally challenging times present an opportunity for a substantial ‘rethink’ of Manitoba’s tax regime, one that engages both our community and our experts in ‘big picture’ thinking about not just our level of taxation but whether we have a tax system that best serves a Great Jobs Agenda.

All Together (Government, Labour, Community Groups and Business Must Work Together): 

This has been an area of considerable progress, in particular the creation of the Innovation Council (something the Manitoba Chambers called for), the Council’s plan to present its recommendations to a community forum, and the pending summit of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council. 

However, a crucial next step is needed to maintain momentum, enhance accountability and extend engagement, namely, the creation of a Forum on the Great Jobs Agenda. 

This Forum would:    

  • Create a framework to assess Manitoba’s progress on the Great Jobs Agenda;
  • Confer with the public/stakeholders and experts on the best way to enhance Manitoba’s progress on the Great Jobs Agenda;
  • Consider issues of productivity and innovation in Manitoba, although this analysis would need to occur within the context of the Great Jobs Agenda;
  • Perform an ongoing and detailed analysis of Manitoba’s economy. To lead to truly informed policy decisions this analysis must look at each sector, not just the economy as a whole, and consider the need for:

– specialized training and research institutions on a sector-by-sector basis;

– specialized infrastructure on a sector-by-sector basis;

– special regulatory regimes on a sector-by-sector basis; and

– any other special needs identified on a on a sector-by-sector basis; 

  • Maintain a website with regular updates that are both posted and emailed to subscribers;
  • Make recommendations or suggestions for action by governments, the private sector, and others to enhance Manitoba’s progress on the Great Jobs Agenda;
  • Produce annual public reports on its work. Publications could also include interim and special reports, as appropriate;
  • Initially run for a four-year period. The Forum’s mandate would be renewed if a public review concluded the Forum has been effective in fulfilling its responsibilities; and
  • Be operated as part the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council, however, if PEAC cannot accomplish this type of analysis and reporting another entity should be set up to do so.

 

The submission states the Government of Manitoba has much to be proud of and acknowledges that in many ways the Government has laid a good foundation to enable Manitoba to prosper in a creative economy. However, to build on that foundation, to take the next step in realizing Manitoba’s potential, it must embrace the remaining aspects of the Great Jobs Agenda. 

In the words of the Martin Prosperity Institute: 

“There is no magic bullet. But sooner or later some jurisdiction will determine how to tap more fully the creative talents of much broader segments of its people – and it will gain a distinctive advantage. Japan’s auto manufacturers plumbed the knowledge and creativity of their shop-floor workers and gained a tremendous competitive advantage. Ontario’s own Four Seasons has done so in bringing guest service to new, world beating levels, thanks to empowered front-line employees.” 

The meeting was very productive. Minister Wowchuk saw a great symmetry between the Great Jobs Agenda, the Government’s vision and the upcoming summit of the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council.  

Click here to see the executive summary of the Pre-Budget Submission or click here to access the complete submission.         

This was the MCC’s first Pre-Budget Submission with the Honourable Rosann Wowchuk as Minister of Finance. The MCC took that opportunity to usher in a new video series called “Meet the Ministers”, which is dedicated to helping Manitobans find out a bit more about their political leaders. 

The video has Minister Wowchuk answering four questions:

  • What is the biggest surprise relating to your new department?
  • What’s the biggest opportunity for Manitoba in relation to your department?
  • What inspired you to get into politics?
  • What is your favourite office nick knack and why?     

The MCC thanks Minister Wowchuk for hearing out the MCC and participating in the “Meet the Ministers” video series.