The province’s Auditor General says that Travel Manitoba does not have the proper systems in place to help achieve Manitoba’s tourism goals.

In a report for the Management of Provincial Tourism, Auditor General Norm Ricard says that Travel Manitoba needs to focus on implementing the plans and strategies it has laid out, and report on the results.

The Crown Corp has been the leading marketing and development body for tourism in the province since 2017.

Ricard found that while Travel Manitoba had outlined goals and objectives in their plans, they did not consider risks that could affect tourism. He noted that Churchill is one of the drivers of tourism to the province, but yet the plan says that climate change is a low risk to tourism in the area.

“The loss of the polar bear’s environment due to climate change would have a significant impact on tourism,” said Ricard.

Ricard adds that there is a lack of specifics on how the plans would be implemented.

The audit also found that while Travel Manitoba consulted with businesses to incorporate feedback into the plans, they did not consult with the government.

Tourism makes up the third-largest source of revenue in the province behind agriculture and mining.

Manitoba sees nearly 11.4 million people come to visit and spend over $1.6 billion during their stays yearly Travel Manitoba’s goal is to reach an annual average of 12.6 million visitors and $2.2 billion in tourism spending by 2022.

The province’s chief public health officer says that Manitoba Health is ready for any possible deadly infection outbreak.

Dr. Brent Roussin announced today that public health officials are monitoring the coronavirus infection that has resulted in the lockdown of three cities in China.

600 people have been infected with the disease, resulting in the deaths of 17 people.

One case of coronavirus was confirmed in Washington State, in a person who had recently been in China.

Roussin said that even though the risk of contracting coronavirus in Manitoba is low, health workers are asked to be vigilant with clients' travel histories.

He added that anyone who heads to a hospital with a fever and acute respiratory illness and has travelled to parts of China, or have been around people who have travelled within the past two weeks will be tested.

If a person is showing symptoms of coronavirus, they will be placed in a private room alone and out under precautions.

Manitoba is at low risk for coronavirus because there are no direct flights to China.

If a person is suspected of carrying the virus, all medical staff must report the case to Manitoba Public health.

Goose Lake High School in Roblin has closed its doors temporarily due to “challenges with their heating system”.

Classes have been moved to the Roblin Community Centre until the problem can be fixed.

Students and teachers were moved to the community centre this morning after sending a letter to parents saying that “student learning and classroom instruction will continue at the temporary location”.

The school is hoping that the heating system will be fixed in the next couple of days.

Due to the venue change, the school is providing transportation to students who normally walk to school, to help them get to the community centre.

The province announced today that an additional 12 spaces will be added to help treat dialysis patients at the Dauphin Regional Health Centre.

The enhanced service includes the hiring of two trained renal staff to expand operating hours to include an evening shift.

Dauphin MLA Brad Michaleski says the enhanced care will be good for people in the Parkland.

“To expand the capacity in here, I know the families and the people that are dealing with dialysis, they’re already dealing with an anxious situation and having to travel out of the region just compounds that,” said Michaleski. “So having expanded capacity here in Dauphin, means compassionate care closer to home.”

The additional spaces will be available on March 1st and will expand the weekly patient capacity to 36 from 24.

Expanding the patient capacity in Dauphin is part of the province’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan, which is aimed at decreasing road travel and wait times for patients in Manitoba.

Michaleski added that the recent announcement adds on to several changes at the DRHC, from the MRI to the revamped Emergency Department.

“Those are significant commitments to improve healthcare,” said Michaleski. “And now this dialysis, it’s about treatment, and getting those treatments brought back here and making them available in the Parkland.”

Around 14 percent of Manitobans live with kidney disease, and about one-third of them develop kidney failure in their lifetime.

Stats Canada says in the fourth quarter of 2019, the price of legal cannabis rose, while the price of illegal cannabis fell.

The price of legal cannabis rose to $10.30 per gram in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to $9.69 from a year earlier.

In the fourth quarter of 2018 illegal cannabis was priced at $6.44, by the end of 2019 that price fell to $5.73.

Quebec has the lowest price of legal cannabis, selling at $7.88 per gram, New Brunswick has the highest price of legal cannabis at $11.36 per gram, Manitoba has the 4th cheapest legal weed at $10.56.

On the side of illegal cannabis, New Brunswick has the cheapest at $4.90 per gram, Ontario has the most expensive at $6.21 per gram, and weed in Manitoba is second most expensive at $6.15 per gram.

When taking the average of legal and illegal cannabis prices, Manitoba has the most expensive weed in Canada, selling for $9.12 per gram on average. Quebec’s average is the cheapest at $6.24.

Manitoba Ag Days 2020 launched the new Innovation Showcase, featuring 32 of the latest and greatest ideas in agriculture.

32 participants competed in 7 different categories to prove their invention was the best.

The winners were:

Agronomics:

1st Place- NutriScan by ATP Nutrition

2nd Place- Crystal Green by Taurus Ag Marketing

Farm Safety:

1st Place - The Tiregrabber

2nd Place - Bin Safe System by Setter Manufacturing Ltd.

Agribusiness Services:

1st Place- Combyne by Farmlead.com

Agriculture Equipment:

1st Place- Terraformer by Ag Shield

2nd Place – Meterveyor by Riddell Seed

Animal and Livestock:

1st Place- MBS Energizer by Gallagher

2nd Place- AgriRepel by Protexia Plastics co: Thunderstruck Sales and Marketing

Ag Tech:

1st Place- BinAdapt + Advanced Thermostat by Adaptive Agriculture Solutions Inc.

2nd Place- Recon Spreadsense by Intelligent Ag

Farm Built Solutions:

1st Place- Manitoba Gate by Triple Pass Welding

2nd Place- Sabre Clamp by Airguard Incorporated

The Best In Show Award was presented to Mazergroup.

Tune in to the Noon Ag Show with Josh Sigurdson next week, to hear from the winners of the Innovation Showcase.

It's been nearly half a year since the search for 18-year-old Bryer Shmegelsky and 19-year-old Kam McLeod who were wanted for three murders in BC came to an end near Gillam, Manitoba.

Not only was the search exhausting for all authorities involved, but it now turns out that it cost the RCMP about 1.5 million dollars since they had to utilize many resources. The cost doesn't include the Army's efforts in the search.

Manitoba R-C-M-P had to spend around $800,000 during the 17-day search while BC estimates it cost them $750,000. 

The two suspects were eventually found dead on August 7th on a shore of the Nelson River. After viewing videos on their cellphones, the investigation determined that their original plan was to hijack a boat and go to Europe or Africa. In one of their final videos, Schmegelsky and McLeod said they had reached a river that was too large and fast moving, so they planned on taking their own lives.

The search caused quite a stir in the Parkland as at one point, people were on the lookout for a green sedan reportedly being driven by the two suspects in our area.

A Strange Type of Comfort, that’s the title of Gaylene Dutchyshen’s new book.

Dutchyshen, from Gilbert Plains, expresses how it feels to be a published author.

“When it’s been a dream that you’ve had since you were a child or teenager it feels pretty good. It’s something you think you might like to do someday and then when it really happens, when they accepted it for publication, I was really excited about that. Now to see it out as a book and a few people have read it and they liked it. I’ve read some reviews that some people really, really like it and of course, not everyone’s going to love it, but it’s an amazing feeling.”

Dutchyshen says the novel has been a few years in the making.

“A lot of the novel got written in 2015 when I was taking a creative writing course, through Humber College with an author by the name of Sandra Birdsell, she was my mentor. I worked on it for about 10 months and got the first draft done. Over the next couple years, I wrote the second draft and the third draft and I finally sent it out in 2018, in August and by October that year, Dundurn Press from Toronto sent me an email and said that they were going to publish it and it wouldn’t come out until January of 2020. So I spent the whole of 2019 doing edits, working with an editor, working on the cover design, and we worked on the title of the book.”

The story is about two rural women, one is 58 years old and the other is in her early 80’s, and despite being from different generations, they have a common bond because their farms are next to each other. The two husbands’ families have a conflict which plays a part in the story, as well as the fact that the 80-year-old has a daughter the same age as the other main character, which creates some mystery. Dutchyshen says it’s a story of motherhood, friendship, and betrayal.

Dundurn Press has expressed interest in turning the book into a trilogy, and Dutchyshen is a third of the way through the first draft of a sequel novel.

This Saturday, Dutchyshen is hosting a book launch in the Gilbert Plains Legion Hall at 2 in the afternoon. She’ll be doing a reading, then have a Q&A period, and then the book will be on sale at the end.

The book is available at Dauphin Super Thrifty and Old September in Gilbert Plains.

The Burrows Trail Arts Council of McCreary hosts their Concert Series each year, and the 2020 series continues on Friday.

Manitoba-based country musician Kevin Peters will play a set at Cafe 37 in Kelwood starting at 6 pm. Peters is described as a traditional, honkytonk country artist who stays true to his country and gospel roots. Tickets are $20 which includes homemade soup and pie.

The Burrows Trail Arts Council, which is a registered charity, takes proceeds from events like this to help put on performances with professional musicians, along with workshops, and exhibitions at the McCreary Library.

As well, they have another show coming up on Friday, February 28th at the McCreary Legion Hall featuring Caleb Rudkevich from Alonsa.

For tickets to the show, call 204-835-2192. Also feel free to check out the Burrows Trail Arts Council website or facebook page.

Advances in genetics, agronomics, and technology have resulted in an upward trend in yields for crops grown in Manitoba.

To reflect the changes, yield trending will be a part of Manitoba’s AgriInsurance for the 2020 growing season.

A positive trend has been identified in eight crops including red spring wheat, canola, soybeans, grain corn, oats, white pea beans, irrigated processing potatoes and hemp grain.

Probable yields, used to determine insurance coverage, will increase for these crops as a result of implementing yield trending.

Total insurance coverage will increase to about 3 billion dollars, with producers paying premiums similar to 2019.

In a press release, additional changes to the program for the 2020 growing season were mentioned:

• MASC will offer the contract price option (CPO) on canola, including specialty oil canola, and field peas. Manitoba producers have been requesting greater coverage for higher-value crops for several years. This option will allow producers to blend the price from their contracted production with the base AgriInsurance dollar value (weighted by production) to better reflect expected market prices.

• Fall rye will be introduced as an eligible crop for organic insurance.

• Producers will now be eligible for a reseed benefit on annual novel crops based on 25 per cent of the per acre dollar coverage selected for their novel crops. If the annual novel crop fails to establish by June 20, a reseed benefit will be available on those acres. Producers may select from three different coverage levels: $150, $200 or $250 per acre.

• Forages used for extended-season grazing are now eligible for wildlife damage compensation. This includes crops used for in-field bale and swath grazing, as well as standing annual crops intended for grazing (e.g. corn). Producers will receive 45 per cent of the value of the loss caused by big game and waterfowl during the extended grazing period.

• Strawberries are now an eligible crop under the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. Compensation will be available for plant loss, as well as production loss.

Manitoba has the highest level of AgriInsurance participation in the country.

Over 90 per cent of annual crop acres are enrolled and more than 8000 farms are registered.

The total governments’ share of AgriInsurance premium for 2020-21 is expected to be $125.01 million.

AgriInsurance is provided for over 70 different annual crops and forages during establishment and production, as well as for the inability to seed land in the spring due to wet conditions.

Manitoba Ag Days is in full swing and in its second day at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

This morning featured the first winners of the innovation showcase crowned, and provincial Ag Minister Blaine Pedersen taking on producers' questions and concerns at the government booth.

The afternoon will feature a seminar performed by Rex Murphy.

The Keystone Centre is full of people taking in the 550 displays, seminars, and sales.

Ag Days runs until 5 today and continues tomorrow from 9 to 5.