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Premier Kinew claims budget help for rural living

Premier Wab Kinew presents budget highlights for Westman
Central to the thriving community of Miniota is this treed park where small children play and where the cenotaph memorializes those who went to war.

The Manitoba budget was released on Tuesday, April 2. In an online press conference where the budget impact for rural Manitobans was under the spotlight, Premier Wab Kinew introduced a budget that invests in healthcare and aims to lower costs for Manitobans. He also answered questions for Westman reporters.

He spoke about the government’s promise to hire 1000 more healthcare workers and provide more emergency room services.

The premier also announced a three-month extension of the fuel tax holiday, saying, “Driving is a part of our way of life and so for the average person who is saving 14cents per litre every time they gas up, we know this has been a help.”

The budget will include a $1500 home owners tax credit and the 50% farmland tax rebate will continue.

For farmers, there will be continuing a reduction in the Crownland lease cost and a promised opening of two MASC centres for rural communities.

Virden lost the MASC public office in April of 2021when some 20 MASC offices were closed and remaining offices open to the public were to be shared between agriculture and resource development throughout the province.

They were reduced to 10 ag service centre locations which included Arborg, Brandon, Dauphin, Headingley, Killarney, Morden, Neepawa, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, and Swan River.

The Empire-Advance asked if Virden’s MASC office could be re-opened. Kinew responded, “We’re definitely open to that conversation. I’ll mention it to Minister Kostychyn.”

He said there are several benefits of decentralization. “If we get those services closer to you, it helps to meet the needs of the local producer, but it’s also going to bring some spin-off economic activity. It’s going to potentially bring that activity back to the building and to the region.” He said, “It’s the lobbying of a lot of the good municipal leaders in southwestern Manitoba and other regions who have highlighted the importance of getting some of these MASC service centres re-opened.”

Along with a commitment to hire rural health care staff he announced the return of a rural doctor recruitment fund.

The Swan Vally Times reporter asked if the province will raise funding for QDocs, a provincially funded, online platform that connects patients to local doctors by video.

The premier responded, “The first meeting that we held this calendar year was at a Tim Horton’s in Virden, Manitoba where municipal leaders from across southwestern Manitoba just reiterated how important QDocs was for folks across rural Manitoba.”

He said the government considers this as complimentary to other rural doctor and health care recruitment.

The Pas and other smaller centres are concerned about aged hospital and clinic infrastructure.

Kinew said, “We’re going to be rolling out a lot of primary care services across the province, so what we announced today is the high-level announcements.” He said that people across northern communities are going to see help for their health care services, including a travelling MRI to northern locations including The Pas.

Medical doctor training has been announced for Brandon and recently the province also announced plans for a minor injury and illness clinic to open in Brandon, a service that is “going to help stand up this new doctor training facility located in Brandon but also it will have more capacity in Brandon to supervise medial residents…” Kinew said adding,  “It will also see us draw more medical residents into the Westman region.”

About five years ago a committee representing Miniota needs investigated the expansion of seniors’ affordable housing. The town of Hamiota has been a go-to for residents of the Miniota area to find living accommodations. Hamiota has a string of seniors’ apartments that is also in need of renovation.

Premier Kinew acknowledged the value of having seniors continue to live within their home communities. “We’re offering some new incentives that I think will help with this…”

For government owned / operated housing there is a $70 million capital fund “to ensure that maintenance upgrades, even units that have been closed, to be brought on line.

“At the same time, we recognize that there are a lot of important projects being led by not for profits and by the private sector so we’ve got incentives in place.” These include rent supplements or rent guarantees.

 He added, “Today we’re announcing the retail sales tax is going to be refunded for any new multi-unit project that’s a rental project in Manitoba. This is a very strong incentive to help create more… multi person units and also to ensure those units be affordable.”

Actual budget documents including a 134-page document and a summary as well as the premier’s live speech can be found at

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