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Premier Heather Stefanson Focused on Making Manitoba more Competitive, Providing Hope and Opportunity for Next Generation

Press Release

October 19, 2022

As part of the Manitoba government’s ongoing commitment to support Manitoba businesses, create opportunities for young Manitobans and spur economic growth, a new advisory committee is being established to focus on making Manitoba more affordable and more competitive, Premier Heather Stefanson announced today.

“As Manitoba’s economy emerges into a new era of growth, we are committed to making Manitoba a more attractive place for families, businesses, and newcomers to live and invest in,” said Stefanson. “We are listening to Manitobans and our business community and we are taking concrete action to create a more competitive environment to support job growth, drive investment, spur economic growth and provide hope and opportunity for the next generation.”

Reporting to the Economic Development Committee of Cabinet, the Premier’s Economic Advisory Council on Competitiveness will focus on the competitiveness of the province in relation to other provinces and U.S. states, and provide advice, guidance and recommendations on issues pertaining to Manitoba’s economic growth and prosperity.

The premier is pleased to announce Curt Vossen, president and CEO of Richardson International, will serve as chair of the council.

Other members of the committee include:

  • Bram Strain, president and CEO, Business Council of Manitoba;
  • Daniel Friedman, president and CEO, Pavilion Financial Corp.;
  • Dan McConnell, CEO, North West Company;
  • Jamie Brown, CEO and executive producer, Frantic Films;
  • Darryl Levy, president, and CEO, Wynward Insurance Group;
  • Chuck Davidson, president and CEO, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce;
  • Tanya LaBuick, board president, Brandon Chamber of Commerce;
  • Mark Jones, chair, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce;
  • Dayna Spiring, president and CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg;
  • John Heimbecker, vice-president, Parrish and Heimbecker; and
  • a representative from the Indigenous Chamber of Commerce.

“I look forward to working with Premier Heather Stefanson on her economic advisory council. Our mandate is clear, we will look to provide guidance and with the aim of making Manitoba more competitive on the world stage,” said Vossen. “As business leaders, we want to prosper and grow business opportunities in Manitoba. Working directly with the premier provides us the opportunity to attract investment, grow our economy and create more jobs right here at home.”

The premier has also established a tax competitiveness working group to support the council. The working group will provide advice to further the province’s ongoing work to modernize Manitoba’s tax system, making it more affordable and more competitive with other jurisdictions, the premier noted.

The working group, chaired by Finance Minister Cameron Friesen, is made up of tax professionals and other experts to provide relevant, objective advice on short-, medium- and long-term goals, and prioritize tax or other measures that the government should consider.

Members of the working group include:

  • Kevin Ploegman, partner, Fort Group and chartered professional accountant;
  • Mark Jones, chair, Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce;
  • Al Babiuk, CEO, Loewen;
  • Trevor Sprague, partner, MNP;
  • Jessica Dumas, president, Jessica Dumas Institute of Diversity and Leadership;
  • Ryan Palmer, partner, KPMG; and
  • Dan Kelly, president and CEO, Canadian Federation of Independent Business or Kathleen Cook, provincial director, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North, Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Stakeholders will be given the opportunity to present and offer advice to the committee, Friesen noted.

“For far too long, Manitobans have paid significantly more in tax than our neighbors in Saskatchewan and Alberta” said Friesen. “While we have already taken action to reduce the tax burden on Manitobans through measures such as reducing in the PST, indexing the Basic Personal Exemption and phasing out of the Education Property Tax, we recognize there is more work to do to make our tax system more competitive than it is. I look forward to working with these experts to build on our initiatives and support our commitment to grow the economy and ensure the province continues attracting workers and high-quality investments.”

Tax competitiveness embodies business and personal taxes, as both are pertinent to investment attraction, innovation, job creation and growth, the minister noted. The work can encompass any number of areas for improvement in tax policy, design, and administration as well as benefits such as exemptions, deductions and credits.

Also announced today, the province is launching the Small Business Minimum Wage Adjustment Program, following feedback from the businesses community.

“Manitoba small businesses are the backbone of our economy, the creators of jobs and prosperity for so many Manitobans, and we are committed to supporting them through challenging times to ensure they can continue to employ Manitobans and offer the services Manitobans reply on,” said Economic Development, Investment and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen. “When we announced the provincial hourly minimum wage increase to help make life more affordable for Manitobans, we immediately started consulting the labour and business communities to develop a support plan to help address higher payroll costs.”

Small businesses with up to 20 employees including those in private, non-profit and charitable sectors, are eligible to receive a prorated wage subsidy of up to 50 cents per hour for the six-month period from Oct. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023 for each employee earning the new minimum wage of $13.50 per hour for up to 40 hours per week.

The program will feature a streamlined application process, so business owners will be able to receive subsidies quickly, noted Cullen, adding that applications are now open.

For more information on the Small Business Minimum Wage Adjustment Program, visit: https://gov.mb.ca/jec/busdev/financial/sbwa/index.html.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED

Backgrounder

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement: [email protected]
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.

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