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WAYNE’S WORLDly View from the Legislature

Dr. Michel Bruneau

November 16, 2015 – Well it’s Fall and we can’t say it hasn’t been a nice one.  I would like to start by congratulating Dr. Michel Bruneau from Lac du Bonnet for being named Family Physician of the Year for 2015 by the Manitoba College of Family Physicians. As many of you know, our beautiful corner of the province is suffering from a serious shortage of nurses and doctors. Therefore we need to appreciate the qualified people that we have and continue to work hard as we strive to attract more!  Congrats Dr. Mich!

An extended Spring/Summer Session ended on Thursday November 5th with the passing of the NDP’s Spring Budget for 2015/16 and it promises to be in the red again. Actually it will be approximately 20-25% deeper in the red than it was last year!  You wouldn’t want to run your house like the current government runs theirs but it is getting harder for hardworking Manitobans.  Due to the broadening and raising of the PST from 7% to 8% which was a 14% increase, more Manitoba families are finding it difficult to budget.  Manitobans are having to make sacrifices while this NDP government gives themselves a raise!  How about our Hydro rates going up another 4% and this government’s promise that rates will continue to rise every year for the next 10 years!  That’s one promise they don’t seem to want to break.

With the Provincial Election just a few months away, APRIL 19th, 2016, there have been many recent feel-good announcements made by this NDP government. But let me remind you of the last election when the NDP government announced the construction of a Personal Care Home in Lac du Bonnet to be completed by 2014. In fact it was the only time since I became your MLA that the Premier visited our constituency. He attended the sod-turning ceremony but unfortunately it was the last time the promised 80 bed facility saw a shovel in the ground.

On Friday, November 13th the Alternate Speech from the Throne was delivered by Brian Pallister, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. He outlined some of our policies and platform ideas for the upcoming election which are based on: Trust, Compassion, Common Sense, Inclusion and Team Work.

Our policy plans are ones that the government could be doing already the costs on many of them are zero!  They are a part of a plan that we see lacking in this government whose focus seems to be a 3-4 year plan just to get re-elected.  Manitobans won’t be fooled!

WAYNE’S WORLDly – View from the Legislature

October 4, 2015, marked my fourth year anniversary of having the privilege of being elected as your MLA representing the Lac du Bonnet constituency. I would like to use this article to recap on some of the NDP promises made during that 2011 election that were broken over the last four years and which Manitobans continue to pay for.

On Sept. 23, 2011, during the last provincial election, Greg Selinger said the following: “RIDICULOUS IDEA THAT WE’RE GOING TO RAISE THE SALES TAX. THAT’S TOTAL NONSENSE. EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT.”
Just six months later in Budget 2012 Premier Greg Selinger and is NDP government broadened the PST on a long list of items, necessities that hard-working Manitobans can’t do without. Vehicle registration fees, home insurance, haircuts, life insurance, mortgage insurance and even birth and death certificates are just a few of the essential items that prior to 2012 did not include PST and Manitobans did not have to pay.

This broadening of the PST in 2012 brought in over $184 Million in increased revenue. The NDP government didn’t stop there.  In the 2013 Budget they increase the PST from 7 to 8% which was a 14% increase. This saw an additional $277 Million and when you add the previous year’s expansion of $184 Million it means that almost a Half Billion more dollars are coming straight out of the pockets of hard-working Manitobans!

Also in September, 2011, Greg Selinger said “OUR PLAN IS A FIVE-YEAR PLAN TO ENSURE THAT WE HAVE FUTURE PROSPERITY WITHOUT ANY TAX INCREASES AND WE’LL DELIVER ON THAT. WE’RE AHEAD OF SCHEDULE RIGHT NOW.”

On November 24, 2014 NDP Finance Minister Greg Dewar (the 3rd Finance Minister since Selinger became Premier) declared “THE GOAL OF OUR GOVERNMENT IS TO RETURN TO SURPLUS IN 2016-2017. WE’RE GOING TO ACHIEVE THIS BY CONTROLLING EXPENDITURES.”

WHAT??  They would return to balance by controlling expenditures? In a recent release of Public Accounts it shows the NDP government has spent $204 million more than they budgeted for in 2014/15. This means the deficit is $100 Million larger than what was presented in their budget. Fortunately this year the NDP government received $207 Million more from Crown Corporations than they had budgeted for. Without that, the deficit would have been almost $700 Million!

Just recently, the two Greg’s, Selinger and Dewar, have slated pre-budget consultations throughout Manitoba to “hear what Manitobans have to say!” Not one consultation is set for the East side of the perimeter, not even in the Finance Minister’s own constituency of Selkirk. This proves that these “consultations” are merely a smokescreen and that they are not interested in listening to all Manitobans.

Approximately $500 Million in increased revenue by the Premier Selinger’s broken PST promise, out of control spending, lack of transparency and more than doubling the debt! Have you had enough of this NDP government? The Selinger Government thinks they know how to spend your money better than you do!  Manitobans need a change!

WAYNE’S WORLDly – View from the Legislature

September, 2015 – It’s been a couple of weeks now that our students across this province have been back to school, both in K-12 and in Post-secondary.  I want to wish all staff; bus drivers, teachers, support staff, administration and elected officials of Sunrise School Division a great academic year as they struggle with the lack of leadership by this NDP government.  FOUR EDUCATION MINISTERS since I was elected in October 2011!

Manitoba’s NDP government is failing Manitoba students. From 2000 to 2012, the most recent year in which statistics are available under the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), reading scores for 15-year-old students in this province dropped steadily. However during the same 12-year period, the NDP’s spending on education more than doubled from $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion.

There are more examples of students’ families paying more and getting less. Even though revenue from the Provincial sales tax grew from $918 million in 2000 to $1.7 billion in 2012 – the year in which the NDP expanded the PST to include dozens of additional products and services, in 2013 they still hiked the PST by 14%, and those changes now bring in approximately $450 million more a year to a government that still can’t balance its books.

Spending on education has more than doubled under the NDP, yet our students’ test results steadily decline and we remain last in the country in several key areas. Other recent indicators paint a bleak picture facing students and parents:
• This summer’s youth unemployment rate was double the overall provincial rate.
• A couple of weeks ago Conference Board of Canada national report card on innovation put Manitoba at the bottom of the pack with a “D” – above only two provinces. Productivity is linked directly to innovation which is directly linked to education.
• Food bank donations to post-secondary institutions have climbed nearly 50% since 2010.
• A CIBC survey found that 2/3 of Canadian parents are feeling the financial impact of having to support their adult children, and the leading driver of that is having kids in post-secondary education. In Manitoba this is exacerbated by increased costs for school supplies and other expenses due to PST hikes.

I know Manitobans consider it an investment when paying to better educate our youth.  However time and time again, I hear that Manitobans are tired of paying more and getting far less from this NDP government and education is one of many examples of this type of financial mismanagement.  The Selinger Government think they know how to spend your money better than you do!  Manitobans need a change!

WAYNE’S WORLDly – View from the Legislature

May 14, 2015 – Before I get into the grim details of the NDP government’s delivery of the 2015 Budget, I would like to congratulate the Lac du Bonnet chapter of The Ducks Unlimited on their 30th anniversary, which I had the pleasure of attending on May 2nd.

Spring session began at the Manitoba Legislature on April 30th and this budget is especially important because Manitobans are affected so strongly by the financial choices that this NDP Government have made plus it sets the tone for the upcoming provincial election which is less than a year away.

As you will recall, in the 2011 election Premier Selinger promised to not raise taxes and that the thought of that was “absolutely ridiculous.” Within the next five months this NDP government broadened the PST to some of our more essential services. Those services include car insurance, home insurance, haircuts and aesthetics, and even birth and death certificates to name a few.

The expansion of the PST had brought in the government an additional $187 million of revenue per year. With the expansion of services that now included the PST what happened in budget 2013 was predictable, an increase of the PST from 7 to 8% which was a 14% increase. That move alone saw an increase of $247 million in two general revenues and included increases to various fees and licenses such as registering a business or buying a fishing license. Distance-learning course fees went up and students also have to now pay more for materials. So with the expansion of the PST to various essential services and then raising the PST the Premier didn’t just lie about the illegal tax increase, the crime was actually pre-meditated! With the government seeing nearly a half billion coming into general revenue each and every year one has to ask “where is the money” since they haven’t come close to balancing the budget and in fact have increased our province’s debt! Manitobans will be paying close to 1 BILLION DOLLARS in interest payments alone to service this NDP government’s debt and will have to continue to make up for future yearly budgetary deficits. In other words our great-grandchildren will still be paying for this government’s spending addiction!

There are a lot of initiatives that could be supported with that $1 billion, including strengthening our education system, funding more doctors, re-opening closed emergency rooms, and providing better resources and facilities for our children who are in the care of Child and Family Services.

Whether you want to earn or learn in Manitoba, under this NDP government it will cost you more! Manitobans are tired of paying more and getting less. Manitobans deserve a change for the better!

Discarded mattresses and trash don’t qualify as “near-to-natural state”

NDP funding shortage causing Wildlife Management Area to resemble garbage dump: Martin

Mars Hill Wildlife Management AreaMay 15, 2015 – Progressive Conservative MLA Shannon Martin is calling on the NDP government to give Manitoba Conservation the resources it needs to remove trash strewn illegally throughout a Wildlife Management Area near Lac du Bonnet.

“The Manitoba NDP talks green, but has one of the worst environmental records in Canada,” said Martin, Opposition Critic for Conservation and Water Stewardship. “Garbage strewn throughout protected areas that fall directly under Manitoba Conservation’s administration is an embarrassment.”

Martin tabled photographs of mattresses, televisions and thousands of rounds of spent ammunition, among other junk, found last weekend in the Mars Hill Wildlife Management Area.

“Conservation officers are aware of the illegal dumping of the garbage, but say NDP funding reductions have taken away their resources to deal with the problem,” said Martin. “NDP waste is threatening essential front-line services.”

According to Manitoba Conservation, Wildlife Management Areas exist to “protect the land in a near-to-natural state to provide much needed habitat for wildlife and to conserve Manitoba’s biodiversity.”

Martin noted the recent $670,000 in political payouts to former NDP staffers could have been better used to employ 200 students to help keep these areas in their near-to-natural state.

Harper Government announces Support for Seniors in Pine Falls

Seniors in Pine Falls will receive financial support to help take part in social activities, announced James Bezan, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake, on behalf of the Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors).

March 17, 2015 – Golden Leisure Club is receiving $7,298 from the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).

The organization will use this funding towards replacing windows, entrance floor and steps to provide a safe environment to allow seniors to continue to develop and plan programs and activities such as exercises and meals.

Quick Facts

– Under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP), up to $25,000 in grant funding can be provided to eligible organizations for community-based projects that are led or inspired by seniors.

– Since 2006, the NHSP has funded more than 13,000 projects in hundreds of communities across Canada.

– Economic Action Plan 2014 increased funding for the NHSP by $5 million per year, for a total of $50 million provided to this program annually.

– Since 2006, $2.8 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners.

– Minister Wong launched the Government of Canada Action for Seniors report in September 2014. The report is a new information resource highlighting federal programs and services that can be accessed by seniors, their families and caregivers. It was created in collaboration with more than 22 federal departments and agencies. The report can be found on Canada.ca/Seniors

Quotes

“Our Government is proud to support seniors in communities across Canada through lowering taxes and investing in meaningful initiatives such as the New Horizons for Seniors Program. Through partnering with organizations, we can help to keep seniors active, engaged and informed.”-The Honourable Alice Wong, Minister of State (Seniors)

“I am proud to belong to a government that continues to support our seniors so that they can maintain a good quality of life and continue to be active members of their communities. Seniors have made valuable contributions to our society and to our economy, and it is important that we continue to recognize them.”-James Bezan, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake

“The funding we received this year is going towards making our building a safer place for the use of our seniors and visitors to our club.  Thanks to the New Horizons Program to make this possible. “-Melvin Jaster, President, Golden Leisure Club

MANITOBA GOVERNMENT BOOSTS FUNDING FOR MUNICIPAL ROADS, BRIDGES, INFRASTRUCTURE

New Program to Make it Easier to Access Matching Construction Funds:  Ministers Caldwell, Kostyshyn

March 17, 2015 – The Manitoba government is increasing the matching funding available to municipalities outside of Winnipeg to $16 million in 2015 to improve roads, bridges and infrastructure, Municipal Government Minister Drew Caldwell and Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Ron Kostyshyn announced today.
“The additional funding will allow municipalities to do more road and bridge repairs,” said Minister Caldwell.  “By merging some of our existing funding programs into a simpler, more flexible program we are making it easier for municipalities to double their infrastructure investments.”

The $16-million fund includes $14 million for roads, an increase of $2.5 million over last year, and
$2 million for bridges, doubling the level of funding available in 2014.  The total increase over last year is $3.5 million.  Municipalities will be able to apply for up to 50 per cent matching funds for local projects.

“These investments are going to mean bigger, faster upgrades to municipal infrastructure,” said Minister Kostyshyn.  “This will help communities maintain strong links and safer, more dependable travel routes for families, commercial traffic and tourists.”
“We are pleased the province is streamlining the application process for these important infrastructure programs, “said Doug Dobrowolski, president, Association of Manitoba Municipalities.  “A smoother application process allows our members easier access to these valuable programs and ensures important road and bridge projects are completed faster.”

New program guidelines are available at www.gov.mb.ca/ia/index.html.

Municipalities will be able to apply for Municipal Road and Bridge Program funding through the new, streamlined application process starting in April through Manitoba Municipalities Online (MMO).  Information on how to apply for funding will be provided to all municipalities by the end of March.

WAYNE’S WORLDly View from the Legislature

January 15, 2015 – I would like to start off by wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year! In fact, being healthy puts you at a definite advantage if you reside in the Interlake Eastern Health Region.  The closure or partial closure of ER services in Beausejour, Pine Falls, Pinawa, Whitemouth and Ashern hospitals has residents in our communities fearing the worst in the event that an emergency situation should happen to themselves or to someone in their family. Not to mentioned the added stress to nurses and staff as well as longer wait times at hospitals like Selkirk who as a result of the lack of ER services in our region are receiving an astounding increase in patients seeking care. Many residents in the Beausejour – Brokenhead area are starting off the new year in search of a family doctor. With one of our physicians choosing to leave and the health authority unable to retain another, a large portion of our population find themselves without a doctor or will be forced to travel outside the community in order to see their GP. What is our government doing to address the issue – creating an opportunity for more excuses! It remains to be seen whether or not the transfer and replacement of the CEO of our regional health authority is a good decision, there are no guarantees. One thing I can guarantee from this decision is a vat of new excuses from this NDP Government as to the reasons for the continuing failure of health care in the IERHA.

While I sincerely wish everyone a safe new year, it is a bit more challenging if you have to travel on a number of roads in the province. Lack of significant infrastructure has made driving difficult and sometimes dangerous for example on PR 304, PTH 11 and/or PR 520 in our own constituency. Since becoming MLA for Lac du Bonnet I have spent considerable time travelling on these roads and while they may not be labelled the worst in Manitoba it all depends on the measuring stick you are using. Our roads are in need of repair but what is still an infrastructure priority in our constituency is the PR 313 Winnipeg River bridge or “the Skinny Bridge” which is a vital link to the east side of the Winnipeg River at Lac du Bonnet. MIT conducted an engineering study and developed a number of options for repair and/or reconstruction of the bridge. Landmark Planning & Design Inc. was retained by MIT to help with the public consultation of these options. MIT chose the third option to construct a new bridge on top of the existing piers at a cost of $30 – $40 Million. Keep in mind that core testing of the existing pillars still needs done to ensure they can sustain a new deck. The bridge will be 1 lane only during the estimated 2 year construction period with full closure during some periods. You can view MIT’s proposal from the October 2014 Open House listing all the options by going to http://www.gov.mb.ca/mit/wcs/pdf/october_2014_open_house_presentation.pdf .

The proposal states that the operation of the bridge in its current condition poses no safety risk with respect to the stability of the bridge. This may be true however the backed up lines of lake traffic mixed with daily commuters most definitely poses a safety risk as frustrated residents, tourists and emergency personnel  anxious to get to their destination are either stuck in line or re-routed miles out of their way putting extra strain and increased traffic on alternate roads in the area. I am pleased that finally some headway is being made towards the rehabilitation of the Skinny Bridge, and I realize that there is a process that needs to take place but as another cottage season approaches I fear not only for those that have to travel the bridge but also for the local businesses that rely on tourism in the area which may also be at risk.

This leaves me with wishing you a happy new year. It is hard to be happy about a government that is more interested in getting re-elected then governing our province. While our Premier and former Cabinet Ministers are busy campaigning, our province has 20-plus ER’s that are closed or under partial closure,  the worst child poverty rates, the lowest scores in math, science and reading and the highest debt throughout all the western provinces.  At a time when we need our government to be united and standing behind their decisions, this NDP government has chosen to implode by blaming each other and refusing to take any responsibility for their actions.

So live healthy, stay safe and be happy in the new year! I still believe that Manitoba is a great province to live, work and raise a family and I know the potential is there to make it the best. It’s time for a change!

NDP Mining Mismanagement Costing Millions

Government failure resulting in millions in losses for Manitoba mining Sector: Cullen

December 23, 2014 – Two Manitoba investors spent more than $300,000 and secured an additional $1.3 million in market capital to support the development of the Godslith Claim, a world-class lithium deposit approximately 365 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Those dollars will now go out of Manitoba, and the Minister of Mineral Resources is being sued for $5 million because of more than five years of delays in the permitting process and an inability on the part of the minister to properly consult affected stakeholders.

“The inability of the NDP to properly address the consultation issue and put in place a framework that supports mineral resource development in our province is hurting Manitoba. The industry is frustrated, the government is negligent and the result is dollars flowing to other provinces,” said Mineral Resources critic Cliff Cullen.

A soil sampling permit for the area was applied for in 2009. More than five years later, the permit sits in limbo because the NDP claims it is still consulting potentially impacted groups.

Over the past five years, Manitoba’s share of Canadian mining exploration expenditures has declined by 52 per cent and currently sits at 2.4 per cent of the national total. If Minister Dave Chomiak doesn’t do something soon, the consequences could be dire for mining communities.

WAYNE’S WORLDly View from the Legislature

November 10, 2014 – I would like to take this opportunity to honour our Canadian Veterans and those who continue to serve our great country. I would also like to thank our Legions, community centres and schools who hosted Remembrance Day services as well as the cadets and volunteers who helped to organize these commemorative events and distribute poppies so that we may continue to pay tribute to those who gave their lives for our freedom.

I am sure by now that many of you have seen, heard or read the news of the imploding of our NDP Government. It is difficult to ignore and even harder to witness the self-destruction of our Premier and his Cabinet. The only thing that remains consistent with this NDP government is the complete lack of accountability for the positions that they were elected to fulfill. With our province falling last in education, our health care system in critical condition and our credit rating deep in the red our government chooses to exhibit a self-serving bias by pitting themselves against each other at a time when Manitobans need them most.

While this government spends their time figuring out who is to blame, Manitobans continue to pay more and receive less. As your MLA and the Education & Advanced Learning critic I am doing my best to address issues that affect all Manitobans and in particular the Lac du Bonnet constituency.

In 2011 this NDP government promised to remove education property taxes from Manitoba seniors. They promised it again in 2013 adding that by 2015 our seniors will no longer pay this tax. Come 2015, less than 2 months away, Manitoba seniors will still be paying this tax and yet another promise will be broken. In a typical band-aid solution the NDP government created the “Seniors School Tax Rebate” putting the onus on our seniors requiring them to apply for the rebate upon receiving their property tax statements with the rebates stated to be received in 8-10 weeks.  I personally have received many calls from constituents who waited more than 16 weeks to receive their rebate and some who are still waiting. With the size of this government’s administration Manitoba seniors should not have to wait twice as long to receive a simple rebate to which they are entitled!

One of the more serious issues affecting all Manitobans and especially those in the Lac du Bonnet constituency is the failure of our healthcare system. 14 years of this NDP government has resulted in the closure or partial closure of more than 20 emergency rooms in rural Manitoba. In the IERHA alone, ER’s in Pine Falls, Beausejour, Pinawa and now Ashern are experiencing partial closure or under nurse managed care. Over 2300 doctors have left our province under this NDP government and what are they doing about it….fighting with each other!  Again the onus has been put on local governments and citizen formed community groups to try to find some sort of solution to this critical issue. When is this government going to show up?

NDP waste is threatening our front line services. Our infrastructure is crumbling, our jobs are decreasing, the amount of Manitobans on welfare is increasing and children’s lives are at risk in the care of our Child & Family Services. All of this is a result of this NDP government’s mismanagement and they did it together! The recent internal eruption of our government is both arrogant and desperate but most of all it is just plain sad. Even though my colleagues and I are pleased to finally be called back into session on November 20th, a reduced period of 2 weeks is not enough time to adequately address all of these important issues.

There have been hundreds of submissions to our www.policyblueprint  plan from Manitobans bringing forward policy ideas for the future and betterment of our province. Our door is open to your ideas. We are listening and we are ready to govern.