The Throne speech | Facing our financial challenge

November 29, 2016

​On November 21 the Province of Manitoba delivered a Throne speech that acknowledged how the economy underpins every action, promise and goal we have as a community. The continued deterioration of Manitoba’s financial position would only serve to undermine the government’s ability to deliver for citizens. This speech delivers the right messages with the right tone on our priorities.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is particularly pleased to see a key recommendation move forward. We’ve long advocated for pooled retirement pension plans as an effective tool to help Manitobans prepare for retirement – without putting a burden on the backs of businesses. The provincial government not only heard this suggestion, but is moving quickly to bring it into reality.

Equally encouraging is the establishment of the Red Tape Reduction Task Force. Without impacting revenues, the Province can make meaningful change here that improves our economic climate.

The Winnipeg Chamber has been in discussions with the Province over the provincial nominee program, bringing forward a number of member-driven recommendations from our Bold Platform. We’re pleased to see this was another area emphasized by the Throne speech since enhancing this program is critical to meeting our skilled employee needs today and tomorrow.

Over the past weeks, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has participated in the Province’s carbon pricing consultations. We believe whatever model Manitoba adopts to direct a potential carbon tax’s revenues will be critical to our success in the future economy and look forward to continuing the conversation outlined in the Throne speech.

There’s only so much room in any speech – or in a year of government life – to identify and address key issues. Nevertheless, The Winnipeg Chamber believes some areas deserved inclusion or stronger emphasis.

Difficulty accessing capital is the number one obstacle identified by our members in survey after survey. While the Province has established a caucus committee to examine access to capital issues in Manitoba, stronger action and urgency is certainly due. In the same vein, the last time our province had a meaningful examination of the tax ecosystem was 1999. A lot’s changed in nearly 18 years and a Manitoba Tax Reform Commission couldn’t be more appropriate given discussions around PST and a probable carbon tax. Lastly, while we support a number of measures the Province has outlined to repair our services there’s an underlying culture within our provincial civil service that needs to be addressed – one that’s process heavy instead of outcome centric. We know culture change is a long term activity. We know it’s hard. But now is the right time for a public service modernization exercise. A civil service that celebrates a customer-centric culture won’t just improve citizens’ interactions with government: it will be key to overcoming our financial challenges.

Overall the Throne speech delivers a powerful message to business: the financial challenge before us is impressive… and we can overcome it.

The Winnipeg Chamber is pleased to have shared your thoughts and ideas with our provincial government in how we move forward. Beyond specific measures, this Throne speech reflects the relationships the Pallister government is building with Manitobans – with openness, transparency and active listening on their part. Along with the emphasis on the economy, we take tremendous hope in that.