Chamber Advocacy Day brought Manitoba Chamber of Commerce Executives from across the province to the Manitoba Legislature on Tuesday to meet the Premier and several Ministers, and some members of the Opposition, to have a dialogue on issues facing the business community and communities in general all over Manitoba. The day was organized by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce.

Morden Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Clare Agnew, said she spoke about a very important issue in the province.

"I said, we're so thankful to have Boundary Trails Health Centre in our region but at the same time, that we're experiencing this awesome expansion but there's concern of how we are going to staff it."

She said labour shortages are widespread.

"We talked about healthcare, we talked about early childhood educators, we talked about welders. There was a common theme in the room for sure."

Immigration and internationally trained professionals to meet these needs were part of the day's discussion.

"As we know, the RNIP program at this point is potentially going to expire at the end of February, so we're always looking at partnering with the Province as well with the Provincial Nominee Program," added Stephanie Harris, Economic Development Officer for the Town of Altona and Municipality of Rhineland. 

Premier Wab Kinew and Stephanie HarrisPremier Wab Kinew and Stephanie Harris

Conversations were also had on how to best prepare for foreign-direct investment, and access to potable water in the Pembina Valley.

With about twenty people in the room there wasn't much time for one-on-one conversations, added Agnew, but says the message from the NDP Government was clear.

"They were really focusing on growing our economy and that the health of our economy helps our business community, and our business community helps our growing economy, and just how really important it is for us to work together and to start talking about Manitoba as a 'have province.' We have what it takes, so let's work on our economic development."

"It was very positive," added Harris. "I felt like they were really listening to us, which was fantastic. They were really interested, and they also asked really good questions. It was fantastic as well to have the Premier join us for thirty minutes and have a conversation. You don't always get that opportunity." 

Agnew feels the new government wants to listen and learn about issues affecting business and wants to build partnerships to make Manitoba a 'have' province, with some ministers committing to meet with all communities across the province by the end of January. 

Winkler Chamber Executive Director Tanya Chateauneuf was also in attendance.