After treading cautiously on his approach to economic development strategies during his first two years in office, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister has now come out with a number of new initiatives and a commitment of more to come.
But as is the case with all economic development strategies, there is no immediate silver bullet. Pallister used his annual State of the Province address to Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce members on Thursday to unveil his government's Economic Growth Action Plan. The initiatives include the creation of a new economic growth committee of cabinet and a new Manitoba Economic Development office with the goal of transforming the delivery of programs. As well, the province will establish new partnerships with regional and sector-specific bodies to "simplify program delivery and to be more responsive to the needs of Manitobans."
The action plan is to be just the first stage of the government's response to a report called Growing Manitoba's Economy, which was also released on Thursday. That 16-page document is the culmination of an almost year-long consultation with business and community leaders. Led by Dave Angus and Barb Gamey, they met with roughly 500 Manitobans to produce a report that features a series of recommendations, highlighted by a call for a re-alignment of government to allow it to be more responsive to economic development initiatives.
Pallister said the province will phase in the action plan, starting with the re-structuring of government.
"When we formed government, we inherited an outdated and unfocused patchwork of programs," Pallister said Thursday in a press release.
There has been a general consensus in both government and the business community that those programs lacked co-ordination, a clearly defined strategy and the mechanisms to measure outcomes. "We are establishing a modern approach to address today’s challenges and unlock the untapped economic opportunities in our province and around the world," Pallister said.
The economic growth committee of cabinet, which will be chaired by Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Blaine Pedersen, is an attempt to modernize the province's role in economic development and enable a "whole-of-government" approach.