The Liberal government will start the process of ratifying the new United States- Mexico-Canada trade agreement next week.

During a press conference in Winnipeg, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that a ways and means motions will be introduced on Monday. The motion is the needed first step for the approval of fiscal bills.

“Passing the new NAFTA is our priority,” said Trudeau. “There are too many businesses relying on access to the U.S market. It’s extremely important that we move forward with ratification and it’s our intention to move forward with this.”

Ratifying the new trade deal has been a long process. Mexico first ratified the deal last summer, and the U.S. ratified the deal earlier this month.

Now that the motion to ratify is being put forward, the Liberals will need to work with other parties to get the legislation passed.

The Conservatives said they feel like they have not received enough details from the government on the content of the new agreement to guarantee their support.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has not yet said whether or not his party will back the deal.

Two climate change projects based in Manitoba are receiving funding from the federal government.

Eco-West Canada and the Assiniboine Park Conservancy are each receiving $100,000 to assist their fights against climate change.

Eco-West promises to work with small and medium-sized companies to raise awareness and provide risk mitigation training to municipalities across the prairies.

Assiniboine Park promises to engage youth and create a social media campaign to address how to face barriers to effectively fight climate change.

The pair of organizations are 2 of 19 organizations receiving funding from the federal government as part of the Climate Action Fund.

The Climate Action Fund is part of the government’s strategy to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

After meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Brian Pallister said that he is prepared to unveil a modified climate change plan that may include a carbon tax.

He added that he wants the federal government to recognize Manitoba’s record on environmental protection.

“We deserve to be respected for our green record,” said Pallister. “We do not deserve to be called climate change deniers by anybody.”

The Premier said that dialogue between the province and the federal government will continue about Manitoba’s strategy going forward. He added that is prepared to modify the province’s climate change plan to include “some kind” of a carbon price.

Pallister didn’t provide details on the proposed price, but said he’d prefer it to be “flat and low like the prairie horizon”.

Pallister’s announcement comes during the federal cabinet ministers retreat in Winnipeg that began yesterday.

Having the retreat in Winnipeg is part of an effort by Prime Minister Trudeau to try and repair his government’s strained relationship with the western provinces.

During the retreat, the cabinet is trying to outline plans for its minority government going forward.

Manitoba Beef Producers held a two-day youth retreat last week near Brandon.

40 young farmers between the ages of 18 and 39 gathered at the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives farm north of Brandon.

MBP President Tom Teichroeb says he is happy about the success of the first-ever event.

“From my perspective, it went really well,” said Teichroeb. “By all accounts, it sounded very, very positive from the young participants that did attend. I think it certainly gave us a great guideline to hopefully try and make this an event that we do more often.”

The retreat centred on the topic of farm succession, including tax and financial issues, and land acquisitions.

Teichroeb says that it’s enlightening to see young farmers take interest in retreats like this.

“To see that passion, and to see those folks, wanting to be a part of the industry is very, very encouraging,” said Teichroeb. “Just overall, very positive.”

A notice of registration for candidates is out for a municipal by-election in Gilbert Plains which will take place on Wednesday, April 8th.

The by-election is for 1 vacant councillor spot and if you'd like to fill it, you have until Tuesday, March 3rd to register as a candidate. This can be done by phoning Leanne McKay, Senior Election Official at 204-548-2326 to get a registration form. You can also fax her at 204-548-2564.

Registration forms can be submitted to the Gilbert Plains Municipal Office at 201 Main Street North in Gilbert. A candidate must register themselves before they can accept any donations, raise funds, borrow money, or incur expenses during their campaign.

Click here to view the official notice of registration which you can also find at gilbertplains.com.

The Governement of Manitoba has sent a mandate letter to colleges and universities in the province, outlining a new funding formula.

Economic Development and Training Minister Ralph Eichler urged schools in the letter to look at sharing procurement and other services. He added that schools should explore centralizing the application system, and seek provincial approval for capital projects, regardless of who is funding the project.

In the letter, Eichler went on to say that colleges and universities need to be vigilant when it comes to management staffing levels and salaries paid to senior executives.

The mandate letter says that a new funding system will be developed that tie funding to a performance measurement.

Manitoba Hydro has been given their Environmental Act Licence to build the Birtle Transmission Project and construction is slated to start this Spring.

The project is part of a long-term deal between Manitoba Hydro and SaskPower signed in October 2018 to provide up to 315 megawatts of hydroelectric power to Saskatchewan by 2022.

Starting at the Birtle station just south of the town, the transmission line will zig-zag west to Tantallon, Saskatchewan. Click here for a map of the Manitoba portion of the transmission line. More detailed maps can be found here.

Saskatchewan still relies heavily on coal-powered electricity and the Birtle Transmission Project will provide enough hydroelectric power for 82,000 homes.

Prairie Mountain Health has released the Community Health Assessment for 2019.

Nancy McPherson, the Population Health Planner Analyst with PMH, says the take-home message is the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle that helps reduce the risk of developing chronic disease.

The goal of the assessment is to get a better understanding of who lives in our region.

This helps to figure out what the strengths and weaknesses of the region are.

The findings help inform programming and services and develop policies to support the health of people.

The assessment has shown some positive stats.

People in the region are living longer, and the pre-mature mortality rate, which applies to those under the age of 75, has decreased. As well, there’s been a significant decrease in heart attacks and teen pregnancies.

The Government of Manitoba is implementing a transformation strategy to try and improve outcomes for vulnerable Manitobans.

Families Minister Heather Stefanson said that the province needs to transform the way the province provides services to Manitobans.

“The Department of Families has set out a 12-month plan that clearly outlines how we will work together to protect our children, reduce dependence on government programs, and strengthen Manitoba families and communities,” said Stefanson.

Some of the priorities outlined in a strategy document include implementing supports for people who have opportunities to regain financial independence through employment, transforming the child welfare system with a goal of reducing the number of children in care, and improving early learning and child-care options for Manitoba families by creating new child-care spaces and options.

The new strategy was first released to department staff in December. Since then, senior staff has met with employees at town-hall meetings to address the goals of the strategy and how their work will achieve it.

A recent report says that there need to be more work placement programs for post-secondary students in Manitoba.

The report done by the province’s colleges and universities and the Business Council of Manitoba, says that programs need to be put in place especially at small and medium-size businesses.

According to the report, many small businesses have a hard time finding people who are qualified enough to work there, and work placement programs would help connect them to prospective employees.

The president of the University of Winnipeg, says only half of all graduates currently have work placements. She added that the number should, ideally, be closer to 100 percent.

The report goes on to warn that the province’s future job market is vulnerable to disruption and automation in areas like manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing.

It asks for collaboration between the business sector and schools to make sure students are trained for the economy.

Provincial economic development minister, Ralph Eichler, says that the recommendations made by the report will require funding and it’s much too early to say how much.

Over the winter months, the City of Dauphin strives to clear snow off the streets as quickly and efficiently as they can.

In past years, the city maintained the snow plowing and sanding on the provincial highways within the city and was compensated accordingly.

A change in provincial funding caused the city to use taxpayer dollars to maintain the provincial highways and would have to use significantly more if they were to continue the work for Manitoba Infrastructure.

City Council has decided that municipal taxes shouldn’t be used to maintain provincial roads, so Manitoba Infrastructure is now responsible for all maintenance of the streets.

The streets MI is responsible for are Main Street from Whitmore Avenue to River Avenue, River Avenue from Main Street to Bond Street, 1st Avenue N.E. from Main Street to Mountain Road, 2nd Avenue N.W. from Main Street to 2nd Street N.W., and the Mall Service Road.

Concerns regarding the maintenance and condition of those streets can now be directed to the Manitoba Infrastructure, Regional Director at 204-622-2061.