MCC Editorial – Throne Speech Misses Golden Opportunity

Nov 24, 2014 | Chamber News

Over a week ago, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce shared our hope that in the wake of all the political maneuvering, ministerial resignations, and cabinet shuffles that the provincial government would deliver a throne speech that would restore confidence with the Manitoba business community, and that the government is focused on creating an economic climate for growth. After last Thursday’s speech, we are left with uncertainty at a time when certainty is paramount.

On the surface there are several items in the throne speech that can be applauded; expanding the current apprenticeship model, which combines classroom instruction and on-the-job experience, to certify new occupations outside the traditional trades, such as Information Technology; forming a new Trades and Technology Network to facilitate greater collaboration between Manitoba’s four colleges and improve responsiveness to employers’ needs; and the elimination of interest on student loans. While this is a welcome focus on education, there is little in the way of details in how these goals, a term that is used more than once in the document, will result in addressing the current and growing labour challenges in Manitoba.

The plan to improve highway conditions on PTH 6, something already announced earlier this year, was strongly advocated by the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce. Finding ways to keep Highway 75 open during the spring flood season was also advocated to government, so plans to build a bridge over the Morris River north of Morris and a focus on the future of Lake Winnipeg and its environmental impact are also welcome in the speech.

However, the words and goals put forward in the throne speech carry with them a hollow ring given the turmoil that continues to permeate the legislature. Far more focus was spent watching where the “gang of five” would be positioned and discussion surrounding the significance of the flower colours on lapels gave the impression of school assembly, not a throne speech. Esthetics matter in politics and what continues to fester on the screen and in person provides a bad view of Manitoba to someone watching from afar. Until the political posturing resolves itself, Manitoba will remain unattractive to businesses looking to invest in the province. The focus should be on Manitoba’s best interests.

Whether it was the government throne speech or the alternative throne speech from the PC’s – MCC and the business community are left looking for a vision or plan that will address the areas of greatest need in Manitoba: workforce shortages, lack of economic competitiveness, health and the need for economic development. Announcing a long-wanted speed limit increase will not provide Moody’s with a reason to upgrade the Manitoba economy, get us back to balancing our budget or stop the out migration of young people. In fact, the new speed limit just means people and business opportunities can travel faster through Manitoba.

Click here to read the speech from the throne.

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