On Tuesday, October 3rd, Manitobans made history by electing a majority NDP government led by Wab Kinew who will be the first First Nations premier of a province in Canada. Both Heather Stefanson and Dougald Lamont announced that they will resign as leaders of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and the Manitoba Liberal Party, respectively.
While some commitments will take longer to enact than others, below is a summary of what Manitobans and business leaders can likely expect from the Kinew government over the coming months.
Following the pending Throne Speech, Manitobans can expect to see a short fall legislative session focused on advancing NDP campaign commitments related to affordability and healthcare. Of note, the NDP has committed to keeping the 2023 budget intact with their costing demonstrating that all campaign promises will be funded by the unallocated $500 million in the existing budget. This means that there is unlikely to be any interim supply motions to access additional funds this fall.
Jobs and Economy
It should be expected that the Manitoba Jobs for Manitobans strategy may be implemented. A key campaign promise for Kinew, the plan commits to create 10,0000 jobs for Manitobans in the skilled trades by prioritizing Manitoba employers and workers for public infrastructure jobs, including the major infrastructure commitments announced by the NDP on the campaign trail.
A Blue-Ribbon Infrastructure Panel and a Premier’s Business and Jobs Council will be created to help further develop Manitoba’s economy—both could be enshrined in legislation or by Ministerial Order (MO). The platform also committed to a new critical minerals strategy to be introduced by an NDP government, likely through legislation. The strategy will focus on supporting the rapidly developing industry while advancing economic reconciliation and maintaining good relations with Indigenous peoples.
The biggest priority for the NDP during the election campaign was addressing the affordability concerns facing Manitobans today. Two of their most significant promises to address this issue include freezing hydro rates and cutting the gas tax. The Premier has committed that the NDP will cut the gas tax within their first 100 days in government. While this can be accomplished through legislation, freezing hydro rates is significantly more complicated due to the independence of the Public Utilities Board (PUB) over determining rates. The previous government’s legislation attempted to give the government more control over rates and encroached on the independent nature of the PUB. The NDP has committed to repealing this bill and will instead reduce the amount of fees Manitoba Hydro pays to the government by $37.5 million and will also dip into contingency funds to cover and shortfalls without legislative change. Kinew is confident that these measures will convince the PUB to freeze rates.
The NDP has made many commitments surrounding affordable housing that include a mix of policy and legislative changes. Removing the PST from new rental builds, increasing the renters tax credit, and implementing a ministerial approval process will all likely require legislation. Connecting houseless people with more supports and determining an affordable housing strategy could both be done through policy changes in the months and years ahead.
Another significant focus of the campaign, the NDP have committed a significant amount of funds to addressing the challenges within the healthcare system. Healthcare workers recruitment will be the most significant portfolio priority as the NDP look for measures to ensure they are able to meet the staffing requirements of the numerous healthcare facilities promised throughout the campaign. These measures will include a province- wide recruitment strategy that will begin within the NDP government’s first 100 days in office.
Other campaign promises include ending mandatory overtime, establishing a Senior’s Advocate, making prescription birth control free, and increasing the Healthy Child Prenatal benefit would all require legislative changes. Introducing the proposed rapid accreditation process for internationally educated nurses will also require legislation. The NDP has not given a clear timeline on when these changes will be implemented, however, given that the NDP will need to move quickly on recruitment and staffing, it is possible these changes will be introduced during the fall sitting.
Building new healthcare facilities throughout the province will be done over a longer period. The NDP has said they will start by budgeting $3 million each year to do consultations with experts. It is unclear if they will start allocating these funds immediately or in the next budget.
Crime and Safety
With the NDP’s crime strategy commitment, we can expect legislative and policy changes. Policy reforms affecting bail may be implemented by the NDP government which may include better data sharing amongst law enforcement bodies and investments in rural broadband to help improve bail monitoring. The NDP has committed to introducing an Unexplained Wealth Act aimed at targeting drug traffickers. Platform promises about community safety revolve around policy changes and collaboration with municipal governments.
While campaigning, the NDP committed to implementing a universal nutrition program that would be funded by tax rebate changes. The role of private businesses in classrooms would be altered by an NDP government by enacting P3 accountability legislation. The NDP platform also promises changes to how k-12 schools are funded and to the curriculum. It is likely that the NDP will require time to propose a path forward for these changes, with spring being the earliest we may see movement on this file.
Post-secondary students can expect that an NDP government will provide more government funded grants and student aid to cover the costs of higher education. Exact amounts for these changes have not been announced, so it remains unclear when this can be expected. The NDP also pledged to reinstate health coverage for international students which was cut by the previous Pallister government at $3.1 million a year.
- Repeal Bill 36
- Introducing a rapid accreditation process for international educated nurses
- Healthcare worker recruitment strategy
- Cutting the gas tax
- Freezing hydro rates
- Ending mandatory overtime
- Establishing a Senior’s Advocate
- Making prescription birth control free
- Increasing the Healthy Child Prenatal benefit
- Removing the PST from new rental builds, increasing the renters tax credit, and implementing a ministerial approval process for Manitoba Housing projects
- Unexplained Wealth Act
- Manitoba Jobs for Manitobans strategy
- A Blue-Ribbon Infrastructure Panel and Premier’s Business and Jobs Council (could also be MO).
- Universal school nutrition program
- P3 education accountability legislation
- Change to K-12 education funding