Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk was in attendance at the NDP Government Throne Speech on Tuesday, and says that although Steinbach was not mentioned, he has faith that Steinbach will not be forgotten by the Provincial Government.
Funk says Steinbach’s office reached out to Premier Wab Kinew congratulating him on his win, and they received a letter from him in return earlier this week.
“When I think of the Throne Speech, I don't feel so good that Steinbach was missed, but when I read the letter, if the letter is the heart of our premier, I think we will have good times ahead.”
Funk read out the letter they received from Premier Wab Kinew,
“Thank you for your congratulations. I look forward to working with you toward making life better for all Manitobans and continuing to strengthen the positive relationship between our democratic institutions. Thank you again for your congratulations and support.”
Funk says even though our region leans to voting Conservative, he believes the NDP government will work with Steinbach.
“He knows we're Conservative, but I think he realizes we're Manitobans.”
He says there were a lot of good things in the Throne Speech, but council will need to look at how they are going to advocate for Steinbach and the Southeast.
Funk mentions a concern he had regarding the Throne Speech.
“They talked a few times about tough times, that they had to make tough decisions, and they'd be making some changes. They didn't really elaborate on that. I didn't know what that would be, the changes they'd be making.”
He says as this was the very first Throne Speech with this brand new government, we will just have to wait and see.
“When you look at the Southeast, we’re 120,000 plus strong. Steinbach is the fastest-growing urban center in Manitoba, and it's one of the fastest-growing in the region. I think we're in the top 15 in Canada.”
One of the highlights Funk pulled out of the Throne Speech includes the promise to reduce wait times for surgeries and MRIs by bringing quality surgical care to the Manitoba Healthcare system.
Another is to reduce the backlog in Manitoba hospitals by expanding services at Winnipeg and Brandon hospitals, but with this point, he notes he has a little concern that they didn’t mention Steinbach.
“Because Steinbach is the third largest city and we are getting these big expansions, but maybe they're not on the books yet, so maybe that's why they didn't mention them.”
He also is glad they are going to be freezing the hydro rate increases for one year, and that they are committed to growing Manitoba’s economy, and creating good jobs by encouraging investments in Manitoba.
“One of my personal favorites is they're planning to work with beef farmers in our area to make the beef industry strong in our province.”
The province is also planning on cutting the Manitoba gas tax at the pumps, so we should be expecting to start paying $0.14 less per litre at the pump in 2024.
Funk mentions Calgary had done this too, but they didn’t notice it for three months and nobody was getting a discount.
“So the province had to step in and make sure that happened. Hopefully that doesn't happen here, but we'll have to make sure we're paying less at the pumps.”
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