Premier Wab Kinew on his vision for a 'net zero' Manitoba economy
Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew says he wants his province to be an example of what a net-zero economy can look like.
In an interview with BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang airing Friday, Kinew outlined the path he envisions for Manitoba to lead the way to a low-carbon future. Through investment, he said the plan can grow the province's economy while adding middle-class jobs.
If the plan is successful, he said it could act as a model for other regions in the country.
“What we need now is the right mix of economic policymaking at the provincial and federal levels, along with private investment decisions, to really unlock this potential in a way that … would make Manitoba a showcase for what a net zero economy can look like with advanced manufacturing in a way that benefits Manitoba, but also Canada,” he said.
Kinew, who leads an NDP majority government, was elected Manitoba premier in October 2023, making history as the first First Nations premier elected in Canada.
Part of his plan to grow Manitoba’s low-carbon economy will involve mining critical minerals, which he called “a very important priority for our administration.”
“I think that our government will be able to make a really positive contribution to helping industry understand the best way to engage with Indigenous nations so that they can get projects online,” said Kinew.
The best way to move forward on mining project discussions with an Indigenous nation is to receive the “enthusiastic consent” of that nation, he added.
“The best way for that consent to be expressed is with a business relationship,” Kinew said.
In addition to expanding mining of critical minerals, he said his government is also looking at increasing secondary processing of critical minerals in Manitoba.
One of the Manitoba NDP’s biggest campaign promises was to improve health-care through investments in staffing, which Kinew said is “foundational” to the overall health of the economy.
In the interview, he also pointed to affordability measures his government has taken like cutting the provincial fuel tax.
Balancing the budget and economic growth
The economy is one of the government’s main focuses, Kinew said.
“We really have to grow the economy here in Manitoba, and I think we have some good opportunities to do so,” he said. “We're spending a lot of time on that.”
Manitoba’s 2023-24 Second Quarter Report, released in December 2023, said real gross domestic product (GDP) in the province is expected to slow to 0.8 per cent in 2024 from 1.4 per cent in 2023.
The government is also prioritizing moving toward a balanced budget, he said, which will involve creating the right economic environment.
“Unless we have a balanced budget in the foreseeable future here in Manitoba, we're always going to be coming back asking for more,” Kinew said.
“That's not right given the current affordability challenge that people are living through. So we’ve got to be fiscally responsible, but we also have to be balanced.”
In December 2023, the Manitoba government outlined steps it has taken to address the $1.6-billion deficit it inherited from the previous government, including cutting spending on projects it characterized as wasteful.
Kinew said his long-term goal is to transition Manitoba “from being a have-not province to a being a have province.”
Kinew says he hears from small and medium-sized businesses about challenges with labour shortages, and he thinks immigration is part of the solution.
“Immigration is very important to allow our economy to continue to grow. At the same time, we do know that housing is an issue,” he said.
Kinew said it’s necessary to carefully consider immigration policies to they support ensure economic growth and adequate housing supply.
The full Taking Stock interview with Kinew will air on Friday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. on BNN Bloomberg, 9 p.m. on CP24 and 10:30 p.m. on CTV News Channel.
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