Province Announces Summer Youth Job Opportunities

PROVINCE ANNOUNCES SUMMER YOUTH JOB OPPORTUNITIES


The Manitoba government is offering summer employment opportunities for students and youth, Education and Training Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“The Manitoba government’s summer employment programming provides students with invaluable experience and skills to prepare them for the workforce,” said Goertzen.  “Job centres across the province are opening their doors for the season to offer services that benefit local employers and young Manitobans alike.”

Manitoba Youth Job Centres (MYJC) are located in 43 rural and northern communities.  The offices are situated in all 11 Manitoba Jobs and Skills Development Centres along with local municipal offices, chambers of commerce and other community-based organizations.

The centres match Manitobans age 12 to 29 with local employers for summer jobs and offer assistance with job searches, employment referrals, resumes and interviews, as well as other employment-related resources and events.  Each summer, they serve 8,000 to 11,000 youth and students.

MYJC will be open May 13 to Aug. 16.  The centres are staffed by post-secondary students who work for the Manitoba government through the STEP Services program.

The minister noted the STEP Services program employs about 1,400 students in government departments, Crown corporations and special operating agencies.  STEP students work for the Manitoba government as part-time, full-time or co-operative work placements that line up with their field of study.

This summer, STEP will also launch two new initiatives:

  • STEP Tuition Waiver Summer Student Program in partnership with nine Manitoba colleges and universities that provide bursaries to waive tuition for students formerly in care of Chid and Family Services.  The STEP Tuition Waiver Summer Employment Program offers eligible students receiving a tuition waiver paid work placements in the Manitoba government. The program supports education and training that benefits youth currently and formerly under the care of child welfare.
  • STEP Design Thinking Challenge, where teams of STEP students and their supervisors will work to solve modern public sector challenges.  Students will learn how to communicate innovative ideas to decision makers and will have the opportunity to present their team challenge solutions at the Institute for Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) national conference in Winnipeg.

For more information on MYJC and STEP Services, visit www.gov.mb.ca/cyo/youth/services/manitobayouthjobcentres.html and www.gov.mb.ca/cyo/studentjobs/index.html.

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Private Member Statement May 11, 2021 – Importance of Receiving Covid Vaccine – Andrew Micklefield

MEMBERS’ STATEMENTS

Importance of Receiving COVID Vaccine

Mr. Andrew Micklefield (Rossmere): When the COVID‑19 virus first made the news, I was skeptical. Was this any more than the flu?

   But then my friend got COVID and wound up in intensive care, and I began to take things more seriously. However, I wasn’t entirely persuaded. I thought maybe he was just unlucky.

   Then another friend got COVID and died. Then my friend’s mom got COVID and died as well.

   Then another friend, who is 44 years old, in reasonable health, got COVID and was admitted to hospital, his blood oxygen at dangerous levels. Thank­fully for his wife and six children, he returned home sometime later, over the worst, but weak and physi­cally exhausted. That was last Christmas. I spoke with him recently and he is still unable to work and still physically affected: Sometimes I feel like I’m shuffling about from better to worse to better again without making much progress. There does appear to be slow improvement but doctors say it will take time to return to normal, hopefully later this year.

   Two weeks ago another friend got sick with COVID and found herself in intensive care. Her family asked their church to pray while she wondered if she would ever see them again. Thankfully, she’s now recovering at home.

   People who do not have so many friends affected by this virus are fortunate. But these situations chang­ed my mind, and I am no longer skeptical or unsure. They showed me the very real and life-threatening impacts COVID can have on families and individuals.

   That’s why my wife and I chose to get vaccinated. Places with high vaccine uptake develop herd immun­ity and are opening up, something all of us want. That’s why Ruth and I are vaccinated. I hope these words and stories will help others do the same.

   Thank you.

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Province to Partner With Xplornet to Improve Connectivity to Hundreds of Rural, Remote and Indigenous Communities Throughout Manitoba

May 13, 2021

Protecting Manitobans, Advancing Manitoba by Improving Broadband and Cellular Service in Communities and Along Transportation Corridors: Pallister, Helw

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Broadband Communities
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Cellular Communities

Following a competitive tendering process, the Manitoba government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Xplornet Communications Inc. to connect more than 125,000 unserved or underserved Manitobans to reliable, high-speed internet services, Premier Brian Pallister and Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced today.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of broadband connectivity and the need to ensure Manitobans have access to critical and timely information and services no matter where they live, work or travel in Manitoba,” said Pallister. “We recognize the social and economic benefit of a connected Manitoba, and we are pleased to partner with Xplornet, one of Canada’s leading broadband service providers, to provide reliable, high-speed internet and cell services to Manitobans who have gone without these services for far too long.”

The agreement between the province and Xplornet Communications Inc. will provide broadband services to nearly 30 First Nations, and approximately 270 rural and northern communities. Additionally this agreement will also serve 350 communities with cellphone access, the premier noted.

“Xplornet looks forward to collaborating with the government of Manitoba and accelerating our facilities-based network investment plans to deliver improved speeds and unlimited data plans at affordable prices to rural Manitoban homes and businesses,” said Allison Lenehan, president and CEO, Xplornet.

Through Manitoba Hydro, the province owns thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable across Manitoba, however much of the network is surplus, unused capacity. The network was created to communicate with northern hydroelectric facilities and transmit data. The province led a multi-stage, open competitive process and an independent third-party fairness monitor oversaw it. Through this agreement, the government will make this surplus capacity available to Xplornet to expand its broadband and cellphone services to Manitobans, as early as this fall.

“This innovative agreement makes use of an existing resource already in place that will help protect Manitobans and advance the connectivity between Manitobans and communities throughout the province,” Helwer. “Access to Manitoba Hydro’s fibre-optic network and tower infrastructure will also greatly reduce the capital investments Xplornet needs to expand into rural and remote communities, allowing for a positive return on investment and the quick delivery of service to Manitobans.”

The Manitoba government, Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Hydro Telecom are collaborating to finalize the contract in the coming weeks. 

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Manitoba Has Administered More Than 500,000 Doses to Protect Against Covid-19

May 5, 2021

Manitoba continues to make progress in the largest immunization campaign in the province’s history, as more than 500,000 doses have been administered and more than 40 per cent of people aged 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Our vaccination rollout has come a long way. Half a million doses is a significant milestone we can all celebrate,” said Stefanson. “This is a total team effort from eligible Manitobans participating to our immunizers, navigators, planning teams and those who volunteer at our super sites. We’re moving forward because of this dedicated approach.”

To date, a total of 510,022 first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. This represents 40.1 per cent of all adults in Manitoba aged 18 or older.

“This milestone is one of many we will accomplish as we work to protect not only ourselves, but those around us,” said Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “Working together, we can help reduce the risk and the spread of COVID-19. A single immunization is the beginning to thousands of others.”

There are currently six super sites operating in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Brandon, Morden and Thompson, with others scheduled to open in Dauphin, Steinbach and Gimli later this month. Five urban Indigenous clinics have also begun providing immunizations, providing better access to people who might otherwise face barriers. Vaccines have also been delivered to personal care homes and congregate living facilities by focused immunization teams and pop-up clinics continue to be offered in communities and First Nations across the province.

“Our channels of distribution continue to be fine-tuned to best serve and protect Manitobans,” said Johanu Botha, operations lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force. “More super sites will be opening in the near future, in addition to the existing clinics and visits by our Focused Immunization Teams. This is the largest immunization program in the history of our province, and our strategy and tactics are ever changing as more vaccine supply comes to us via the federal government.”

Earlier today, the Manitoba government announced expanded vaccine eligibility to adults aged 45 or older. In response to authorization of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 and up, the province has committed to a plan that will make first-dose appointments available to all eligible people by May 21.

To learn more about Manitoba’s vaccine campaign, to read stories about people who have chosen or committed to be immunized, or to sign up to be notified when it is your turn, visit https://protectmb.ca.

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Province Investing Additional $2.5 Million in Trails to Support Outdoor Recreation Opportunities for Manitobans

April 21, 2021 – Funding Meets Increased Demand for Activities Promoting Health and Well-Being During Pandemic: Ministers

The Manitoba government is investing an additional $2.5 million to establish the Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund in order to help create, maintain and expand recreational trails across the province, Municipal Relations Minister Derek Johnson and Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard announced today.

“Our government recognizes the increased demand among Manitobans for trail activities and the need for outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Johnson. “Outdoor recreation is very important and one of the safest ways to support physical and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will help support the development and maintenance of new trails across our province, giving Manitobans opportunities to engage in activities that are beneficial for their health and well-being while following public health guidelines.”

The Manitoba Trails Strategic Fund has been developed in partnership with Trails Manitoba to provide grants totalling up to $2.5 million to help ensure equitable, provincewide support for trail projects. These funds will encourage collaboration with local organizations and municipalities for trail expansions and improvements, Johnson noted, adding that the total investment complements similar investment previously dedicated to the City of Winnipeg.

“We have seen phenomenal growth in the number of people using our provincial parks and our trails, so there is interest in this type of expansion,” said Guillemard. “The Department of Conservation and Climate is preparing a trails strategy that will guide the development and maintenance of a provincial trail network for a variety of activities including hiking, cycling, snowmobiling and off-road vehicle riding that will give Manitobans more ways to safely explore this great province.”

In 2020, the province committed $7.5 million in funding to be managed by The Winnipeg Foundation and administered by Trails Manitoba for the establishment of trail-related funds including operating funding for Trails Manitoba, the Trails Grant for Manitoba and the dedicated Trails Grant for Winnipeg. The demand for trails and active transportation routes has exceeded all expectations with enthusiasm from across the province, Guillemard noted.

“Trails Manitoba saw an incredible response to our call for trail grant applications this past winter,” said Erik Dickson, president, Trails Manitoba. “This additional investment in trails will allow us to respond to many more meritorious grant applications for trail development and maintenance projects throughout Manitoba. As more Manitobans look to trails to stay active, improve their mental health and explore their province, this funding will allow us to continue to improve our province’s trail offerings and ensure their long-term viability for future generations to enjoy.”  

The Manitoba government has consulted stakeholders about the provincial trails strategy and reached out to the public earlier this year through a survey on EngageMB that brought more than 2,000 responses. Nearly half of respondents confirmed they have used trails more since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with activities covering a range of uses including hiking, horseback riding, off-road vehicle riding and paddling on water routes. A full report on the Manitoba Trails Strategy survey will be released along with the strategy itself in the coming months.

For more information on the Trails Grant program, visit www.trailsmanitoba.ca/.

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Private Member Statement by Andrew Micklefield: April 20, 2021 – Cancer Awareness Month/Karl & Andrea Jaek

Mr. Speaker, every April the Canadian Cancer Society honours and supports those affected by cancer with the Daffodil Campaign where people can buy daffodils and raise money for Cancer research. Daffodils survive long winters and bloom in early Spring and are a natural symbol of hope and strength for the cancer survivors they have come to represent. In previous years I have delivered daffodils across Rossmere, but this year I wish to honour two special Manitobans who epitomize this survival spirit. 

Rossmere residents Karl and Andrea Jaek were Manitoba’s first couple to both have bone marrow transplants; Karls’s for Mantle cell lymphoma and Andrea’s for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. 

2021 marks 5 years since Karl’s 2016 transplant and ten years since Andrea’s younger brother ended her 10-year cancer battle with a life-saving bone-marrow donation. On top of this, I recently virtually attended their fortieth year wedding anniversary. This is a year Karl and Andrea have much to celebrate!

They credit excellent doctors, the fantastic care at CancerCare and the decade-long care of their church community who provided meals, childcare and housekeeping for 10 long years. Karl and Andrea now serve that same church community by supporting and training others who help those struggling with sickness or grief. They thank God for every day of their post-cancer life and are enjoying life and serving others.

Andrea recalls her desire to keep living – there were still things she wanted to do. She chose to focus on life-giving things including completing two 60 kilometer walks and raising money for Cancer care – even while undergoing treatment. 

In the midst of her sickness, Andrea prayed that God would help her get through for the sake of their teenage children who were struggling. Today many people thank God for Karl, Andrea and scores of other cancer survivors whose courage, perseverance and faith inspire us to persevere and evaluate our priorities to make our lives count.

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Budget will improve lives of Manitobans – April 21 2021 Canstar Herald article by Andrew Micklefield

Budgets are never just about money, they’re always about people, and Manitoba’s 2021 budget charts the course to help all Manitobans by creating jobs, lowering taxes and strengthening core services.

On April 7, Manitoba’s government committed to spend more per-person on health (up $156 million), education (up $91 million for K-12) and social services (up $34 million) combined than any other province.

Budget 2021 committed a record $2.1 billion for strategic infrastructure, stimulating construction jobs and building roads, schools, bridges and other projects. The NDP’s record years of infrastructure spending hovered around $100 million, the next three years will see our government spending upwards of $500 million annually.

Ordinary Manitobans will benefit from tax breaks, changing the NDP’s record of making us one of Canada’s highest-taxed provinces. Home owners will receive education property tax rebates as school funding comes off property tax bills. Retail sales tax will be removed from personal services and vehicle registration fees will drop by 10 per cent. Small business payroll tax thresholds will also decrease.

In health care, $50 million will improve wait times for surgeries, $23 million will improve access to cancer treatments and $9 million will add 120 more personal care home beds. Diabetics under 25 will receive insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors.

A new Department of Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery ($342 million) will engage the public to form a mental health and addictions strategy and increase 24/7 housing supports for mental health. This year, $12.5 million more will be spent on Community Living and disABILITY Services, and more than $2.5 million more is available for wrap-around support for Manitobans experiencing homelessness.

Rent control guidelines will be frozen through 2023; and $22 million more will help more low-income Manitobans pay their rent. There are numerous investments being made in education, childcare, job creation, jobs for youth programs, public safety and climate change.

Other commitments include investing in the North End Water Pollution Control Centre, new electric bus infrastructure in Winnipeg and a $25 million trust to protect the heritage value of the Hudson’s Bay building.

Budgets are never about money, they’re always about people. I’m honoured to serve the people of Rossmere every day, and to be part of a government committed to improving their lives and strengthening our province.To find out more, read the budget for yourself at http://www.gov.mb.ca/budget2021/ index.html.

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Province Investigating More Than $21 Million to Increase Accessibility and Enhance Quality of Life for Manitobans With Disabilities

April 14, 2021

New Investments Will Support Barrier-Free Services, Improve Service Delivery and Protection for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Squires

The province is supporting accessibility and greater protection for Manitobans living with disabilities through a new $20-million endowment fund that will provide grants to municipalities, businesses and organizations to help eliminate barriers to their services, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.

“Our government is committed to ensuring services throughout the province are accessible and inclusive,” said Squires. “This investment will enable businesses, municipalities and organizations to make changes needed to ensure the services, goods and supports they provide are easily available to all Manitobans.”

The Winnipeg Foundation will manage the new Manitoba Accessibility Fund. The minister noted that grants through the fund will support projects such as developing training tools and awareness campaigns for the removal of barriers.

“The Association of Manitoba Municipalities commends the Manitoba government for providing funding to support accessibility in municipalities,” said Kam Blight, president, Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM). “As the AMM supports greater accessibility for all Manitobans, this new endowment fund should significantly benefit local communities and their residents.”

The fund will promote increased compliance with the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, which became law in 2013. The legislation calls for the development of standards to ensure accessibility in important areas of everyday life, such as customer service, employment and transportation. Customer service provisions of the act are now in effect with standards for government and public-sector organizations, businesses, non-profit groups and municipalities.

Applications for Manitoba Accessibility Fund grants are expected to open in the spring of 2022, Squires said.

The minister noted the province is also now providing more than $1.1 million to Abilities Manitoba to support two initiatives that will enable service innovation and improve service quality for adults with intellectual disabilities who are supported by the Community Living disABILITY Services (CLDS) program.

The Innovation and Transformation Fund will provide stakeholders working with CLDS participants an opportunity to present innovative ideas aimed at building capacity within the sector and improving services and outcomes for supported individuals. The fund will support proposals that benefit the sector as a whole including by expanding the use of technology to support meaningful connections within the community, developing employment opportunities for those who want to work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and supporting service providers to deliver services that promote health, safety and independence for individuals.

The Quality Framework Project will introduce service standards and pilot a tool to gather quality-of-life data from individuals eligible for CLDS. The Personal Outcome Measures Tool looks at indicators such as health and employment to assess whether services are contributing to a good quality of life as defined by the individual. The tool will be used to strengthen policies and improve service delivery, the minister added, noting the project was launched last year before it was paused due to the pandemic.

Abilities Manitoba will administer and oversee both initiatives.

“The Quality Framework Project will ensure positive and meaningful outcomes for Manitobans with developmental disabilities, and we are very pleased the province continues to invest in this important work that will help shape the future of services,” said Margo Powell, executive director, Abilities Manitoba. “There are many innovative and creative ideas that help improve the lives of people with disabilities. We look forward to working with our stakeholders to advance projects that will be meaningful for people throughout Manitoba.”

Accessibility is a long-term goal with short-term priorities across the Manitoba government. For more information on accessibility in Manitoba, visit http://www.accessibilitymb.ca.

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Partnership with 211 to Provide Transportation Options for Covid-19 Vaccine Appointments

April 15, 2021 – Service Will Help Connect Seniors and People with Mobility Issues to Available Providers: Stefanson

The Manitoba government is launching a new partnership with United Way’s 211 Manitoba to help connect seniors and people with mobility issues to transportation services that can get them to their COVID-19 vaccination appointments, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“We are pleased to offer another option for seniors and people with mobility challenges who may need a little help to get to their vaccine appointment,” said Stefanson. “Seniors can call a single number, no matter where they live in the province, to find out what transportation services might be available. This will help make the process simpler and easier, while providing a valuable service to Manitobans who need it, so they can get their vaccine and protect themselves against the COVID-19 virus.”

United Way’s 211 Manitoba is a free service that provides information and referral to a full network of community-based social, health and government services. Beginning today, 211 Manitoba is ready to connect seniors and people who have mobility issues with whatever transportation services are available to help them get to their vaccine appointment. This work is being done in partnership with Transportation Options Network for Seniors (TONS).

“For many people, knowing where to turn for help can be challenging and overwhelming. We know that 211 Manitoba provides a valuable service for Manitobans, especially during times of community crisis,” said Connie Walker, president and CEO of United Way Winnipeg. “Now, seniors and others with mobility impairments can speak directly with a service navigator who will listen to their needs and work with them to identify transportation options and other resources in their community.”

Once an eligible person has a confirmed COVID-19 appointment, they can call 211 with the date, time and location. The 211 navigators will help them identify available options and connect them with the transportation provider they choose. Individuals are responsible for the cost of their transportation service, which could include handi-transit, taxi or a shuttle service.

“As a provincewide not-for-profit organization with vast knowledge of the transportation options and resources across Manitoba, we are pleased to support this project,” said Samantha Rodeck, executive director of TONS. “We value the opportunity to connect seniors and those with additional mobility needs to transportation options that enhance quality of life and are necessary for aging in place.”

The minister noted the goal of this service is to reduce barriers to attending a vaccine appointment by providing a single window that helps ensure eligible people are aware of all their transportation options.  

For more information about this transportation service and Manitoba’s vaccine campaign, visit https://protectmb.ca.   

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Budget 2021: Protecting Manitobans, Advancing Manitoba

April 7, 2021

Today, Finance Minister Scott Fielding released Budget 2021: Protecting Manitobans, Advancing Manitoba and shared the Manitoba government’s plan to protect Manitobans and their services through COVID-19 and advance the provincial economy past the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has upended lives and caused hardship and tragedy for many Manitobans. We recognize our province and people will continue to face profound health, social and economic impacts and uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Fielding. “Even though we are not yet through the darkness of COVID-19, we must begin to plan for the light of recovery that lies ahead.”

Manitoba has invested more per person on health care, education and social services combined than any other province, and Budget 2021 increases funding in these priority areas by nearly $1.5 billion.

“Despite the ongoing financial and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, this budget continues to make record investments in the priority public services that Manitobans rely on,” said Fielding. “We will grow our way out of deficit and back into balance by investing in more jobs, tax relief and economic growth.”

COVID-19 has created a significant deficit due to unanticipated health-care costs and support programs, and the unprecedented drop in revenues from the economic shutdown. The province projects a deficit of $1.597 billion for 2021-22, an improvement from the third quarter projection for 2020-21 of $2.08 billion.

Protecting Manitobans’ Through COVID-19

The first priority of Budget 2021 is to continue to protect Manitobans through the ongoing pandemic. This includes $1.18 billion in 2021-22 for COVID-19 costs including personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccine deployment, education supports and future needs.

Health-care funding increases by $156 million to the highest level in Manitoba history, $6.98 billion, and builds a stronger health-care system with better care sooner. Health-care commitments include:
• $812-million capital confirmation for rural and northern health care under the multi-year Clinical and Preventative Services Plan;
• $50 million to reduce wait times for hip, knee and cataract procedures, and surgeries and services delayed by the pandemic;
• additional $23 million for cancer treatments and $2.7 million to expand dialysis;
• $9.3 million to add more than 120 personal care home beds; and
• continuous glucose monitor coverage for eligible children and youth under 25 and increasing insulin pump coverage to 25 from age 18.

The pandemic has profoundly impacted the mental health of many Manitobans. Budget 2021 includes an initial $342 million for programming and services within the new Department of Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery, plus an additional $1.7 million for the Mental Health and Addictions Strategy and $1.8 million more for 24-7 housing supports for Manitobans with diagnosed mental health conditions.

Protecting Manitoba Families

The province will continue lifting Manitobans out of poverty by ensuring safe and affordable housing and strengthening social services, supported by a nearly $34-million increase to the Department of Families. Budget 2021 includes:
• nearly $4 million more for early learning and child care, with operating grants of $1.6 million to child-care centres supporting 392 spaces that opened over the past year, approximately 150 new spaces in capital projects opening over the coming year, plus 50 new home-based licensed child-care spaces;
• rent control guideline frozen through 2023 and an additional $22 million for Rent Assist;
• $12.5 million increase for Community Living and disABILITY Services;
• $2.56 million to support Manitobans experiencing homelessness; and
• nearly $2 million to pilot three new workforce training and support programs for Employment Income Assistance (EIA) program clients.

Budget 2021 makes a record investment above $3 billion in the public school system. Overall education support includes:
• more than $78 million for COVID-19 costs through the Safe Schools Fund;
• $5.5 million for special needs funding;
• $5 million to advance the Better Education Starts Today (BEST) strategy to improve the education system, plus an Education Funding Guarantee of at least $1.6 billion in additional investment over four years;
• nearly $4 million to support online, distance and remote learning;
• a new refundable Teaching Expense Tax Credit that will allow child-care and kindergarten to Grade 12 educators to claim a 15 per cent refund for up to $1,000 on eligible supplies not reimbursed by their employer; and
• an increase of $100 million in school capital project funding to accelerate construction of the 20 New Schools Guarantee, build major additions and make renovations.

Budget 2021 invests in public safety to keep families safe in their homes and communities and support victims of crime:
• $16.5 million to operate Manitoba’s new Public Safety Communications Service radio system;
• up to $2.9 million to fix the backlog in the courts system caused by COVID-19;
• additional $815,000 to increase supports for family violence and families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls; and
• $1.2 million in restorative justice initiatives for First Nations and Métis communities.

Budget 2021 leaves more money on the kitchen tables of Manitoba families by delivering in full the $2,020 Tax Rollback Guarantee one year earlier than planned:
• phasing out education property taxes by 50 per cent over the next two years (25 per cent per year) for residential and farm properties, and 10 per cent for other types of property, with rebates returning nearly $250 million to approximately 658,000 property owners this year, and an average rebate of $1,140 over two years;
• removing the retail sales tax (RST) on personal services including haircuts and salon services as of December;
• reducing vehicle registration fees a further 10 per cent starting in July; and
• indexing Basic Personal Amount and personal income tax brackets to inflation so an additional 1,500 Manitobans won’t have to pay provincial income tax for 2021.

“We know Manitobans deserve a break, especially during this pandemic,” said Fielding. “That’s why we will take even more steps to protect your incomes by reducing the taxes you pay and helping you keep more of your hard-earned money with you, where it belongs.”

Budget 2021 protects Manitoba’s environment for future generations through more action on climate change and protects the clean energy advantage with a secure Manitoba Hydro. Investments include:
• $1.2 million to the Climate and Green Plan Implementation Office,
• $1 million for Conservation and Climate Fund projects, and
• $20 million-endowment fund so Manitobans can enjoy provincial parks for generations to come.

Advancing Manitoba Past COVID-19

The second focus of Budget 2021 is to advance jobs and economic recovery. Manitoba’s economic outlook indicates a strong rebound in 2021 with real GDP rising 4.1 per cent, followed by another solid year in 2022 of 3.6 per cent real growth.

“Economic growth and job creation remains at the centre of our plan for a stronger, more prosperous Manitoba,” said Fielding. “The pandemic has disrupted our economy and our citizens, and we remain committed to helping Manitobans regain their livelihoods.”

Budget 2021 includes more than $62 million to help businesses retrain employees and develop e-commerce platforms, and $25 million for youth job programs.

Additional tax relief for small businesses includes lowering payroll tax thresholds to reduce rates for approximately 1,100 small businesses, exempting approximately 240, and enhancing or extending several tax credits in areas such as small business venture capital, interactive digital media and film production.

Budget 2021 helps advance post-secondary students with nearly $700 million to post-secondary institutions, plus an additional $4 million in bursaries and additional $1.4 million in interest-free student loans.

A record $2.1-billion investment in strategic infrastructure will help drive construction jobs and stimulate the economy:
• almost $630 million for road construction and maintenance, including $107 million through the Manitoba Restart Program, which will allow safety improvements at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Provincial Trunk Highway 16 and the south perimeter interchange at St. Mary’s Road;
• more than $292 million for health infrastructure including the new St. Boniface Hospital emergency department; and
• $415 million for kindergarten to Grade 12 and post-secondary infrastructure.

The budget sets aside $101 million for the Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Outlet Channels flood prevention project, and $100 million for potential emergencies such as floods, forest fires and drought.

Budget 2021 also supports communities through the following commitments:
• $103.5 million increase for priority strategic infrastructure projects that match federal funds under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP);
• flexible basket funding to municipalities with $172.6 million in operating costs and $137 million in capital costs, with advanced operating grants again this year;
• $25 million in trust to redevelop the Hudson’s Bay Building in downtown Winnipeg; and
• $5.6 million more for the Building Sustainable Communities Program to fund more than 10 larger-scale community capital projects.

Budget 2021 documents are available at www.manitoba.ca/budget2021.

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March 23 2021 Private Member Statement by Andrew Micklefield on World Down Syndrome Day

Madam Speaker, World Down Syndrome Day, which was this last Sunday, is a day to recognize and celebrate people with Down syndrome. Children born with an extra 26th chromosome causing Down syndrome face physical and mental challenges and often require surgery for heart defects or hearing obstructions. 

One story of Down Syndrome which has touched my life is that of my dear friends Rob and Jacki, who wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome. They literally searched the world over. Eventually, they found a little boy in Bulgaria. Timmy was 30 months old and weighed 20 pounds. Rob and Jacki knew he was the missing son they had searched for. Thirty-five thousand dollars and 8 months later, Timmy started a new life in Canada. There are great challenges, but even greater joys. 

Timmy’s four older siblings describe him as the best present their parents ever got them. His sensitive nature and love of play makes him the best playmate, and he could giggle from being tickled all day long. Timmy is the “joy centre” of his new home.

Timmy’s preschool teacher describes him as an attentive student who is zealous for his classmates to learn their letters. He is very well behaved, except for sometimes stealing the teacher’s chair when she gets up after circle time. Timmy is so gentle and sensitive that others feel safe and free to be themselves around him. Whenever anyone looks sad or hurt, Timmy notices and comforts them. 

People with physical or cognitive challenges are no less valuable than those who are naturally able in other ways. They have much to teach us, they bring simple joy and needed perspective; they show us things we often miss about ourselves and about the world. May we treasure these people, and the opportunity to know them. Timmy is becoming a uniquely joyful part of more and more peoples’ lives, something available for anyone taking time to recognize and celebrate people with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. May we do so in big and small ways, not just on one day, but whenever we have the opportunity. I know we will come away richer. 

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