Though he has many responsibilities as Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, Cameron Friesen says, his role as MLA for Morden and Winkler is still the top priority.
The region has experienced tremendous growth Friesen says, but that does present some challenges, along with a few things to celebrate.
"We've seen new business start here, we've seen new industry come up, we saw a number a new different business incubator models locate here, including North Forge South establishing [themselves] here in Southern Manitoba."
Friesen believes North Forge South setting up in Morden is a significant validation for these communities. He notes, others are now recognizing that this region is a place they should invest in
There's new growth in the corridor between Morden and Winkler, shovels in the ground for the new school in Winkler, and continued advocacy of a new school for Morden. All of these projects show how much growth the region has experienced over 2018, Friesen says.
"There's a lot of chatter of new investments to come. So I think there's this continuous trend towards expansion, new citizens making Morden, Winkler, and RM of Stanley, a great place to live."
Friesen says there were many changes in the provincial government, like the shuffling of the cabinet, which included his own duties.
"It meant that my year was split between my former duties in the department of finance and my more recent ones as the health minister."
In finance, Friesen says they had a lot of positives before his transition to health. For example, releasing the 2018 budget which showed the government remained on track in reducing the deficit, and holding the line on new tax increases.
The change to health was an adjustment Friesen says, as he started by talking to bankers, then ended talking to health practitioners. He also highlights the many issues that the Manitoba health system is facing from this past year.
The sudden rise of illicit drug use, including methamphetamines, is a major issue, including a continued need for better access to health care and services, and improved wait times. All these things are a huge challenge says Friesen, but they are facing these challenges head-on.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but Friesen adds they are striving to provide better health services for Manitobans. Some of the steps already made include the addition of a new MRI machine in Brandon, an investment of $5 million for hip, knee, and cataract surgeries, reducing emergency room wait times, and opening five new Rapid Access To Addictions Medicine Clinics.