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Premier makes whistle stop in Dauphin


Job creation is the key to future success in the Parkland, Premier Brian Pallister said, during a quick campaign stop in Dauphin late last week.
And the key to job creation is the ability to attract investment capital, he said, during a tour of Ritz Machine Works, Friday afternoon.
Value-added agriculture is also an area that needs to be developed.
“I’ll tell you, over two-thirds of our attraction on capital, that we are leading the country in, is value-added agriculture. And this Parkland area is one of the most productive areas in the province of Manitoba. So we have the product here. We need the capital here, and apply that to innovation like you see (at Ritz) and like you see in lots of other examples in the Parkland area. And create jobs,” said Pallister, who joked he is the first premier in 60 years who actually knows what end of a cow the hay goes in.
“So I am excited about that. You create those jobs and young people can stay and that is positive stuff. Because this is a great place to live and people who live here know it. But if kids can’t find jobs, they have got to go somewhere else. And I don’t like seeing that and I think people in this area understand. My mom grew up in this area and I have strong attachments to the Parkland part of the province and I want to see people able to live here and find their future here. And I am committed to that.”
While job creation and creating an attractive climate for investment are ongoing issues across the province, health care is emerging as the focus of the campaign. That is true more so in the capital region than in the Parkland, where recent investments at Dauphin Regional Health Centre have improved access to vital services immensely, Pallister said.
“That’s been the issue I’d say has caused the most stress for people and so naturally it is the issue the NDP will try to focus on,” Pallister said, adding consolidation of emergency rooms, similar to what was undertaken in Winnipeg in recent months, is a process which every other major centre in Canada has initiated.
“It means beefing up Health Sciences Centre, St. Boniface and Grace Hospital. So we are about halfway into that. But that means changes for staff and that means stress on people.”
And while he is sympathetic toward health care workers dealing with the stress of change, Pallister said ultimately patient needs should be the focus of the system.
And with lower wait times than three years ago, that is more and more becoming the case, he said.
“I would say that my friends who work in health care - nurses, doctors - want to work in a system that works for the patients. Our system wasn’t working for the patients and it is starting to. We are the only province with lower wait times than three years ago. Just us. So it is starting to work, but we have got to keep going. And so we are making an investment commitment to keep going and we will get to a better system.”
On top of ongoing record investments in health care - including rural care with the improvements at hospitals and the hiring of more full-time, skilled paramedics - the Conservative Party has committed to an additional $2 billion over the next four years, he said.
“People are not getting younger and the need for services is growing - hips, knees, cataracts, you name it,” Pallister said, adding there is much work left to do, to improve health care in the province.
That work, he said, will be difficult at times.
“Of course, change is hard and that is why the NDP didn’t do it. They were told they should, but they didn’t,” he said, adding the Conservative campaign has, and will, continue to also focus on lowering taxes for Manitobans.
“(High taxes are) losing us young people and that’s an important thing for attracting capital. We are doing pretty well in attracting capital, especially in value-added agricultural areas, but we need to do more. So I am excited about the prospects of that.”
Pallister’s stop in Dauphin, which also included a tour of the new Reit-Syd John Deere dealership, was part of a provincial tour during which the leader hopes to visit every riding in the province to, “show the flag” and offer support and encouragement to the party’s candidates in their campaigns leading up to the Sept. 10 vote.
“It has been going well. I learned a long time ago that you don’t jog to first base, you sprint past it,” he said.
“So we are really not even at first base yet. We have lots of cleaning up to do from what the NDP left us with. And we have started on that obviously and made some headway, but you can’t clean up two decades of missed opportunities in one term.”