Manitoba Economic Summit: Fostering More Champions for Manitoba

Apr 29, 2024 | Events, Front Page

Last week, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce (MCC) hosted the Manitoba Economic Summit and Annual General Meeting in the city of Brandon. The event brought local Brandon leaders, including His Worship Mayor Fawcett of Brandon, Mark Frison, the CEO of Assiniboine Community College, and Enver Naidoo, the CEO of Westman Immigrant Services, together with other Manitoba leaders including Mayor Sharilyn Knox of Portage La Prairie, and the Honorable Jamie Moses, the Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Trade, and Natural Resources. Important topics were discussed such as how to attract and retain our young workforce talent, how to better integrate and utilize the skills and talents of our immigrants, and how to make progress on issues that have been prevalent in Manitoba for years. Here are our key takeaways: 

Manitoba Government Keen to Collaborate with Business Community 

In his keynote address, Minister Moses highlighted the opportunities available in the province including abundant critical minerals, growing infrastructure connections including to the Port of Churchill and rail lines to Mexico, green electricity, and a strong trading relationship with the United States. The Minister shared the message that both business and government should continue to work together to develop a strong business environment and that we all need to ask everyone to “choose Manitoba”. 

Young People Want Strong Career Prospects in Safe and Affordable Communities 

Janet Lane of the Canada West Foundation presented information showing the unenviable position that Manitoba finds itself regarding its ability to attract and retain young skilled workers. Notably, community safety was a large driver for people between 25 and 35 in relocating their families. People under 25, just starting their careers, were more likely to move to a place they had strong employment prospects. Overall, housing affordability and other necessities were important considerations for youth people – this is an area that Manitoba has a strong advantage including its relatively lower housing prices and car insurance than other provinces. Again, this keynote was a call to action for Manitoba to do a better job telling the story of our strengths. 

New Policies and Roles 

During the event, 14 policies were voted on by attendees and adopted by MCC. These policies affected diverse aspects of the business environment including fertilizer emission standards and foreign student visas. MCC also recognized its new officers and board of directors which included welcoming its new board chair, Beverlie Stuart of the Manitoba Institute for Trades and Technology. 

Leveraging Newcomer Talent Requires Innovation 

Another topic of discussion was around how to leverage the talents of newcomers to the province to push our businesses and communities forward. While foreign credential recognition continues to be a barrier, innovations such as micro credentials that can get people working in the field of past training quickly, competency assessments that recognize skills without designations, and leveraging skills in new ways unrelated to a past credential such as using the HR and management skills of a former school principal in a manufacturing company. These innovative approaches can help build the careers of newcomers without depending on credential recognition to begin their employment. 

Manitoba Needs to Tell its Story 

The theme across many discussions was that Manitobans need to be champions of the positive forces working in our province. Highlighting successful businesses such as Bushel Plus and Greenstone Building Products from Brandon, talking about the affordability advantages of living in Manitoba, and the desirable career opportunities are some ways for Manitoba to shape the narrative around life in the province. Data showed that a significant portion of the Canadian population doesn’t know much about Manitoba. This is a strong opportunity for workforce, business, and investment attraction to reshape the narrative in a more positive light. Additionally, shifting the focus on success in the province will serve to better keep and develop our existing residents and businesses is a step in the right direction. 

During the summit, MCC highlighted the progress made in the past year such as the announcement of the federal carbon tax rebate for small businesses which will provide a significant boost to businesses facing tight budgets, the development of the Canada Housing Infrastructure Fund to develop the groundwork to support our growing communities, and the announcement of a trade strategy that will identify additional opportunities for the growth of Manitoba businesses. The work ahead for MCC includes development on the Manitoba Green Advantage project, supporting additional critical mineral development through the Manitoba Mineral Development Fund, advocating for Manitoba businesses on the provincial and national stage, and championing the Manitoba story which highlights existing business successes, the diverse and supportive communities, and the strong opportunities for growth that exist in Manitoba. 

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