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Manitoba government throne speech released. Here is what they're promising

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The Wab Kinew government’s first speech from the throne promises to cut health-care wait times, follow through on affordability pledges, and make Holocaust education mandatory in the province’s curriculum.

Still, Premier Kinew says in order to follow through with all of the plans and balance the budget in the first term, there is going to be some belt-tightening within departments.

He suggested the deficit is higher than the former PC government indicated, and that it made capital announcements without properly budgeting for them.

Kinew says this could lead to delays.

“It’s not a question of cancelling or cutting projects, but it might be about the timelines. It might be about what we can afford to do and when,” he said.

On the health care front, the NDP says it will return oversight of all surgical and diagnostic procedures back to the health department from Shared Health. It will add ten surgical slates at Grace Hospital, while expanding surgical capacity at the Health Sciences Centre, Concordia Hospital, and the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

Campaign promises to reopen the emergency rooms at the Victoria and Eriksdale hospitals were also included in Tuesday’s speech.

Additionally, there will be a new mobile MRI unit for northern Manitoba, more primary care teams, and minor injury and illness clinics, and promises for more public nurses and beds in acute care hospitals.

The new government is also pledging to create a seniors advocate and increase hours of care for seniors in care homes.

The NDP says it will “affirm” Manitobans' right to access abortions, while protecting abortion providers, and make prescription birth control free.

On affordability, the speech says the Kinew government will follow through with a plan to freeze hydro rates and pause the gas tax.

The province also announced it has a deal in principle with Ottawa to cost-share geothermal heat pumps for Manitoba.

Premier Kinew says this will target savings for around 2,500 households using home heating oil.

A news release that came with the address says “needed relief” is coming for beef producers on Crown land leases.

On education, a pledge to include Holocaust education in the K-12 curriculum and “anti-Islamophobia toolkits” for teachers from the Islamic community.

“Our government has heard from Jewish students who tell us they’re afraid to go to school,” the speech said.

“Our government has spoken with Muslim families who have faced Islamaphobic discrimination and violence.”

There are also pledges to create a nutrition program in every school and lower class sizes for “the youngest learners.”

Other promises include; establishing a provincial statutory holiday for Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30; acknowledging Louis Riel as first premier; improving airports in northern Manitoba; measures for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids; an unexplained wealth act; holding opioid manufacturers accountable; more mental health workers responding to non-violent police calls; and more day care spaces and child care workers.

Following the throne speech, the Manitoba Metis Federation praised Kinew's promise to recognize Riel as the first premier.

"Why did it take an Indigenous person to come along and do the right thing? To recognize an Indigenous premier of this province. That is one that makes me sad that it took that long. 153 years later we're here correcting historical wrongs; that was the sad part for me. But the proud part (is) it's real, it's there," said David Chartrand, the president of the federation.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) was also thrilled to hear that Orange Shirt Day will become a statutory holiday.

"It's a lot to do with our people and the healing of our people. And to be able to hear government acknowledge it's going to be a statutory holiday means a lot to our people," said Cathy Merrick, the grand chief of the AMC.

While the speech mentions harm reduction and wrap-around services, there is no specific pledge on the promised safe consumption site for downtown Winnipeg.

Premier Kinew says they need time to do consultations on where the site should be located and how it would work so it can make a difference.

“We’re going to take the time to get things right.”

On the Prairie Green Landfill tragedy, the speech says the province will never use families of murder victims as political props, but provided no new details on a search.

Kinew says he’d like to see the search take place over the next year.

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