Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen has received a mandate letter from Premier Brian Pallister, outlining the goals for him as Minister of Education. Goertzen says it contains some expectations that are already known, such as doing a review of the education system next year which will include a look at merging school divisions. But he adds it also asks him to implement province-wide bargaining for teachers.
"The province wants to ensure that is done more collectively so it is not done at an individual division-by-division level. That's something that's actually been asked for by the Manitoba Teachers' Society for many years and we think that it makes sense. There need to be significant legislative changes for that to happen. That legislation is in the process of being drafted now. I would expect that it would be introduced in the spring of next year so that it would be ready for implementation, hopefully, in the fall of next year."
Goertzen says even with province-wide bargaining, it would still be possible to have varying rates of pay in the different divisions. He notes there is already precedent for that in health care.
"It happened when there was amalgamation of RHAs (Regional Health Authorities), for example. You had different contracts within the different regional health authorities as they existed at the time and there was a process where that was worked through and sometimes they were grandfathered, sometimes they had other provisions in there. So I'm not entirely sure how it will work out exactly in the education context, but there is always that discussion that goes on when these changes happen."
Meanwhile, for the Immigration part of his portfolio, Goertzen says the mandate letter asks him to fine tune the nominee program to ensure that people are coming to Manitoba with the right skills so that they can quickly fit into jobs.
As for the training part of his portfolio, the letter urges Goertzen to reduce the number of employable Manitobans on welfare by connecting them with training and job opportunities.
"It's ensuring that those who are not just leaving our education system have the appropriate training, but those who might not have gone through the education system and need a bit of hand up, in terms of training to get back into the job market, that they have that ability."
Below is an excerpt from the Premier's letter to Goertzen:
As Minister of Education & Training, you are responsible for improving outcomes for Manitobans throughout the spectrum of our education and training system. In particular, you are
responsible for the following commitments:
Launching an independent review of Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education to consult
with Manitobans and recommend reforms to improve educational outcomes for our
elementary and secondary students;
Responding to the recommendations of the College Education Review to improve
student outcomes, better align college education with labour market needs and our
Ensuring our apprenticeship program provides access to training, supports and
certification of skilled workers to help meet the needs of Manitoba industry;
Expanding and improving our scholarships and bursaries through private sector
partnerships, and ensuring they enhance opportunities for our students, especially
those who are financially disadvantaged in securing rewarding jobs;
Integrating our student loans program with the Government of Canada to streamline
and simplify the application, management and repayment system for student loans;
Ensuring newcomers to Manitoba receive the support they need to find jobs, and that
the federal government fulfills its responsibilities in supporting them as they pursue
Working with your colleague, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Relations, to
expanding the scale of Treaty Education across the province to ensure that more
students and teachers learn about Treaties and the Treaty Relationship;
Implementing province-wide bargaining for teachers to reduce bargaining costs and
give teachers more time to teach; and
Working with your colleague, the Minister of Families, to reduce the number of
employable Manitobans on welfare and instead connect them with training and job
As part of our Cabinet team, you will assist your colleagues in fulfilling the following
Implementing our economic development strategy, led by the Minister of Growth,
Enterprise and Trade;
Fixing our finances, reducing red tape, transforming government and reporting
outcomes, led by the Minister of Finance;
Delivering our Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan, led by the Minister of
Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Manitobans, led by the Minister of
Indigenous and Northern Relations; and
Achieving more Open Government, led by the Minister of Justice.