image.png

The Manitoba legislature resumes today and Premier Brian Pallister is telling some of his ministers to look to the private sector to help improve services.

Pallister has issued mandate letters to his cabinet ministers, including one to Conservation and Climate Minister Sarah Guillemard that touches on the need for provincial park improvements.

The letter instructs Guillemard to attract private and philanthropic investments to upgrade park facilities.

Pallister's letter to Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton urges him to work to enhance the role of the private sector in alcohol retail sales.

The number of private wine stores in the province is capped at eight, and there are some restrictions on what products private beer vendors can sell.

Pallister is also hinting at changes to social assistance to get more people in the workforce.

He writes in his mandate letter to Families Minister Heather Stefanson that she is to reduce people's dependence on government by "transforming the Employment Income Assistance program from a benefit that encourages dependency on government to one that provides a short-term bridge to meaningful employment."

Her task also includes "putting employable Manitobans and young people on a path of discipline, responsibility, training and jobs."

Directions given to Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton would suggest the Progressive Conservative government is also planning to ban smoking in all gambling facilities.

Some First Nations gaming lounges have allowed smoking. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs passed a resolution in 2016 that called for the government to respect those decisions.

Pallister also hints at new rules for lobbyists, with a focus on unions.

In a letter to Justice Minister Cliff Cullen, Pallister tasks him with "updating the lobbyist registry to ensure all organizations attempting to influence members of the legislative assembly, including unions, are transparent."

Much of the mandate letters deals with fulfilling campaign promises the Tories made in last fall's election, such as cutting the sales tax from will preparation, home insurance and more.

Those measures are expect in the provincial budget that is to be tabled next Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2020.