Last night, the Manitoba Legislature adjourned for the summer break until the sessions resumes in late September. The fourth session of the 42nd Legislature has been a busy one since last November’s Throne Speech, the first one under Premier Heather Stefanson. Over 40 government bills were introduced, with some of the most notable being:
Bill 28 – The Prompt Payment for Construction Act: As the name implies, the Bill establishes payment deadlines for contractors and subcontractors.
Bill 36 – The Manitoba Hydro Amendment Act and Public Utilities Board Amendment Act: Caps Manitoba Hydro rate increases at 5% or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. In addition, the Bill enables Cabinet to make regulations that would allow the retail sale of power by entities other than Manitoba Hydro.
Bills 38 and 42 – The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Control Amendment Act: Increases flexibility when it comes to acquiring a liquor license. A more noticeable impact for Manitobans will be the change to allow hotels to sell a full range of liquor products, not just beer and cider as they are currently limited to.
Bill 44 – The Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (Minimum Wage): Currently, increases to Manitoba’s minimum wage are indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This bill would give cabinet the ability to authorize a larger minimum wage increase if the CPI exceeds 5% in the first quarter of any year. Manitoba’s minimum wage is currently scheduled to increase to $12.35 on October 1, 2022. Critics and the Official Opposition NDP have been quick to point out that would be the lowest minimum wage rate in Canada.
Top of mind for most Manitobans, however, is the continuation of an abnormally wet spring. The past three months have been the second wettest in Winnipeg’s history with precipitation levels over double the normal amount. This has manifested itself in rural areas as Manitoba Agriculture reported that 40% of provincial seeding was completed as of May 31st, far below the 5-year average of 91%. In addition, Manitoba currently has more than 2,000 flood evacuees and dozens of municipalities under states of local emergency. Almost 2,000 municipal sites have been damaged by flooding and the very early repair estimates are already into the tens of millions of dollars range for the province.
On the political front, voters in the Thompson riding will go to the polls next week to elect a successor to NDP MLA Danielle Adams who tragically passed away in a December 2021 car accident. Only two candidates are running, Charlotte Larocque for the PC’s and Eric Redhead for the NDP. Traditionally a NDP riding, NDP Leader Wab Kinew missed the final two days of session so he could be out campaigning in the Thompson riding.
With the next provincial election scheduled for October 3, 2023, we are just 16 months away from all Manitobans heading to the ballot box. Polling done in recent months have shown the incumbent PC’s trailing the NDP, so some staff changes are now underfoot on the government side of the aisle. Phil Houde will be returning as the Premier’s Chief of Staff next week, a position he previously held under former Premier Pallister, and Jordan Sisson will be moving from that role to Senior Advisor in the Premier’s office.
With COVID-19 numbers continuing to decline, one thing Manitoban’s can be sure is a parade of potential politicians to their doorsteps over the coming months. Not just provincially but municipally as well, with council and school board elections being held on October 26th this year. Both mayors of Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba’s two largest cities, aren’t running again, so it is shaping up to be an exciting summer for political watchers in the province.
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For information and insights about what the 2022 Manitoba Budget means for the province’s political landscape, please contact:
Michael Juce – Vice President