The AMM met with five Cabinet Ministers representing six provincial departments recently. Position papers from these meetings can be found on our website.
The AMM met with the Honourable Melanie Wight, Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities, on February 18, 2015.
The first item discussed was the Recreation Centre Pilot Program between the AMM and Manitoba Hydro. A new brochure is being finalized to assist municipalities in lowering the operating costs of recreation centres by looking at efficiencies. Children, Youth and Opportunities staff are also prepared to work with the AMM to ensure better coordination, communication and availability of regional staff that can assist municipalities with the programming side of their recreation centers.
The AMM then asked for an update on the recreation policy review. The Minister said the review would be released shortly and she is prepared to share information on how municipalities might be affected.
The AMM also asked for support for the Hometown Green Team Program and how the program might be impacted in the 2015 Budget. The Minister suggested funding would be maintained and assured the AMM that amalgamated municipalities wouldn’t be negatively affected.
Also on February 18, the AMM met with the Honourable Deanne Crothers, Minister of Healthy Living and Seniors.
Funding for Seniors’ housing was first on the agenda. The AMM requested an increase in the supply of seniors’ housing, asked for better interdepartmental coordination with the Minister of Housing and Community Development, and asked the Minister to review the rental housing roundtable report and implement more recommendations that could help to increase supply of seniors’ housing. The Minister committed to looking into the housing roundtable report recommendations and respond back to the AMM.
On the topic of seniors’ mobility, the AMM asked the Province to financially support Transportation Options Networks for Seniors (TONS), and to review handi-van services’ guidelines to enhance the use of the program in Manitoba. The Minister said she would discuss the handi-van guidelines with Minister of Municipal Government, Drew Caldwell and respond back to the AMM.
The AMM also asked for more support for senior services boards in Manitoba.
The AMM met with the Honourable Flor Marcelino, Minister of Multiculturalism and Literacy, on February 24, 2015. The AMM asked the Minister to provide an update on the grants for the multicultural programs her department administers. The Minister confirmed that the intake for the grant is twice a year and communities outside of Winnipeg are encouraged to apply. Letters of support from the local councils are also recommended. The grant is close to $500,000.
Also on February 24, the AMM met with the Honourable Peter Bjornson, Minister of Education and Advanced Learning.
First, the AMM reiterated its position for removal of education tax from property, but noted an 80/20 split is still a viable option. The cap on farmland tax and the implementation of the seniors’ tax credit were also discussed. The Minister indicated that major changes in the current taxation system are unlikely, but he is open to reviewing how the system works with the AMM and others.
The AMM also asked Minister Bjornson for an update on the implementation of the Brandon Medical School Study and certification of foreign-trained doctors. The Minister is focusing on providing spots for rural students in the Medical School at the U of M and confirmed there are over 40% of rural spots now.
The Minister committed to following up with the AMM on two issues – AMM’s participation on a panel for selection of rural doctors, and the dedication of land for school sites legislation and guidelines.
Lastly on February 24, the AMM met with the Honourable Ron Kostyshyn, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.
First, the AMM discussed rural water pipelines, ecological goods and services (EG&S) and beaver programs under the Growing Forward 2 program. While the EG&S and beaver programs are without major problems, the rural water pipelines program is not working well for municipalities. The Minister indicated he is aware of the problem and is working with the federal government in consultation with industry to adjust the program.
The AMM thanked the Minister for the Partner 4 Growth Program and reiterated the need for a comprehensive economic development strategy for rural Manitoba.
The AMM also asked the Minister for an update on the Noxious Weed Act review, and update on the Veterinary Boards funding review, and for the Minister’s support to oppose the cosmetic pesticide ban due to its potentially negative effects on agricultural lands.
As Minister Kostyshyn is also currently Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation and Minister responsible for Emergency Measures, the AMM thanked him for the recent increases to the Municipal Bridge and Municipal Roads Programs, but noted rural airports require urgent assistance. The AMM would like to see more money put into municipal infrastructure and better maintenance of provincial transportation infrastructure. The Minister is looking into providing assistance to rural airports and promised to follow up with the AMM when there is more information on this issue.
Next, the AMM asked for the provincial response to the recent changes made by the Federal government to the DFAA program and the implementation of the 2011 Flood reviews. The Minister was surprised by the recent DFAA changes and remains committed to working with all the stakeholders on addressing this issue.
The AMM also thanked the Minister and staff for sharing the provincial position on rail safety with the AMM for the FCM/Federal rail safety task force review. The Minister promised to work on grain transportation and support for rail safety in the future.
Last, the AMM raised its resolutions regarding the lack of mowing along provincial highways and bridge maintenance over provincial waterways. The Minister suggested more partnerships with municipalities to maintain road infrastructure.
Posted on: March 2, 2015