Manitoba Immigration Minister Malaya Marcelino spent two full days in the Pembina Valley meeting with various groups across the region and learning more about the area, Monday and Tuesday.
Marcelino said it was her first time here.
"I really wanted to hear from folks to ask them about what it is what they needed from the province, specifically in terms of immigration and their labour needs. We are in the process of reviewing our manageable Provincial Nominee Program. We wanted to hear from folks in the Pembina Valley to see what it is they want from the province in order to help them fulfill their complete potential out there."
She outlined some of the messages she heard from those she met with.
"Certainly, we heard about the need, in order for the region to continue to grow there needs to be in place an improved water management resource system for the region so that the whole region can fully reach its potential and continue to contribute to the province in the great way that it's doing and also about future labour needs."
She stopped briefly to add, "In general though, I was learning from the folks out in Morden and Altona and Winkler how they do things in terms of immigration because you guys have an excellent immigration retention rate, but it's actually better than the overall provincial newcomer retention rate. So, in lots of ways, I was there to learn from you because your communities do a very good job of welcoming newcomers."
She highlighted access to employment as one of the ways newcomers find success in the area and feel welcomed.
Marcelino met with the Filipino community in Morden and other community stakeholders in the region.
"Certainly, Regional Connections and also the different initiatives the cities are doing with their economic development officers and even with the city councilors and the type of support they give, as well as businesses, for example Friesens. These types of supports, they really go out of their way to make newcomers and employees feel welcome and that's a big part of a really healthy retention strategy for newcomers and their families."
Marcelino was pleased with the warm welcome she received and the hospitality of the region, noting she was fed well at A Moment in Thyme in Morden, Outpost Grill in the RM of Stanley and at Oma's in the Altona Mall.
As the government prepares to go back into session in March, Marcelino said she will be back in June once it ends for the summer.
"We'll be back as soon as we can to continue building on the relationships that started to form out there. It's certainly a very beautiful and special place in the Pembina Valley and the people there. We really enjoyed our time there and we'll be back soon."