The Stefanson government plans to use Manitoba’s strategic trade connections to secure a more prosperous future for all, as investments in trade transportation roll out in coming years.
The priority for increased trade transportation investment was noted in the Speech from the Throne, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Anita Neville November 15.
The speech formally lays out the broad plans of the government in the coming legislative session.
The top items for Premier Heather Stefanson included repairing health care services and public safety. A number of provincial funding announcements to date have laid out new or heightened services and programs in those areas, which took centre stage in the throne speech.
But getting the economy growing, to pull out of the pandemic’s economic slump and to generate revenues for core public services will depend on productivity.
“Manitoba is in a unique position economically, with gateways to trade in the north, the south, the east and the west,” Neville said. “Our vision and strategy is to build on our multi-modal transportation hub and trade gateways, to forge a more prosperous future for all Manitobans.
“Helping to create a more competitive province will allow us to get growing while we are weathering the economic storm. Investments will strengthen and complement existing projects, including the Winnipeg Perimeter Freeway Initiative, the CentrePort Rail Park, and the Hudson Bay rail line and completing the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway to the Ontario border.”
MHCA President Chris Lorenc said he was heartened to hear the reference to investment in Manitoba’s trade corridors and gateways, noting this reflects the efforts of the MHCA, the Western Canada Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, the Canada West Foundation and national organizations, such as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Construction Association and the Business Council of Canada.
“All of these regional and national groups have coalesced around the notion of a national trade gateways and corridors initiative, to ramp up the way in which we prioritize infrastructure projects for investment and recognizing that the level of funding needs to be increased dramatically to compete globally with other countries that have signed the same trade agreements as Canada,” Lorenc said.
Manitoba is blessed with natural advantages, sitting at the centre of Canada and having the busiest land port at Emerson, the coastal deep-sea port at Churchill and working as a hub for the movement of goods east and west on the TransCanada, he noted.
The throne speech said that investments in key trade corridors to date will maximize trade capacity.
“A recent $40-million commitment to CentrePort will stimulate high-paying jobs essential to economic growth. We will continue to work with the City of Winnipeg as they develop their transportation master plan.
“Northern Manitoba’s success is essential to our province’s long-term economic sustainability. The recent announcements of $74 million in the Hudson Bay rail line will guarantee continued service to remote communities and will attract increased investment in the Port of Churchill. The dividends flowing from those northern critical infrastructure investments will be in the form of new jobs.”