Pallister ignores the North, puts youth and Indigenous communities at risk

Manitoba New Democrats are keeping government accountable to its promises and advocating for investments that build the economy and bring hope to the North, Indigenous and Municipal Relations critic Amanda Lathlin said today.

“Investments in the North are investments in hope, especially for our Northern youth,” said Lathlin. “Projects like the East Side Road and Hydro developments are more than asphalt on the ground and lines on poles. They represent jobs, training and a brighter future. I am deeply concerned that Pallister’s lack of commitment to the North will harm many communities.”

On April 13, 2016, Pallister committed to launching Yes! North within the first 100 days in office. However, last week’s budget had no mention of the $300,000 initiative. The Conservative announcement in Churchill yesterday not only failed to mention Yes! North, it only highlighted tourism projects in Winnipeg.

The Manitoba NDP want to see this program launched in the remaining 66 days and a commitment to future investments in infrastructure, education and health that provide good jobs for Northern Manitobans.

“Pallister claims he consulted with Northern communities for two years on Yes! North, but the communities I called do not feel like they had a meaningful conversation or formal opportunity for input,” said Lathlin. “Every day we hear Pallister’s cabinet evade questions with claims of stakeholder consultations. I’d like them to come clean on which projects and front-line services will continue and which will be cut in the North. I want to see a comprehensive plan that reflects the needs of the people, not the developers.”

The NDP government invested in a diversity of initiatives, such as Highway 6, Freedom Road, and the Hudson Bay rail line as well as health facilities, doctor recruitment programs, the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy and UCN. These provide young people and Indigenous communities with high-paying, high-skilled jobs. The NDP is concerned that if Pallister won’t even fulfill a small $300,000 commitment, Northern Manitobans may be ignored in favour a hidden agenda of so-called efficiencies.

“The word North doesn’t even appear in either his throne speech or budget speech and Yes! North was the only Northern commitment from the campaign,” Lathlin continued. “He flew up a cabinet minister to Churchill, only to put out a news release that did not mention a single tourism initiative outside of Winnipeg. And to top it all off, the 96/4 plan was launched by the NDP government. I have my work cut out for me in advocating for the North, where Manitoba’s heart beats.”