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The minister of growth, enterprise and trade for Manitoba, Blaine Pedersen, says the province's new economic development strategy will be a major priority for him in the new year. blaine pederson2Growth, enterprise and trade minister for Manitoba, Blaine Pedersen. File photo.

The strategy was released earlier in December, followed by the first meeting. The first economic development committee of cabinet meeting will take place in January.

Manitoba is leading the country in private investments, according to Pedersen, and the strategy will work to build on this progress.

"It all ties back to this record private investment that's coming into Manitoba; how do we continue on that, and how do we really strategize in order to get those investments coming in that will really help boost rural Manitoba," Pedersen said. "It's been a long time coming in getting it released. Now that we've got it released we have to help put it into action."

The tourism, mining and petroleum sectors will play significant roles in the installation of this plan, he said.

With major investments coming from large agribusinesses into Midland, Pedersen said drain tile regulations and water retention issues in farmland will need to be addressed.

"We've got drainage regulations hearings going on right now and how to improve permitting of minor works, but it's also the emphasis on water retention, and given the low water levels across southern Manitoba right now ... water retention is going to be a huge issue going forward," he said, adding that small projects will be just as important as large ones when it comes to mediating the problem.

With the new year comes a review of the province's education system, as announced by the Manitoba government earlier in 2018. The review will include a full sweep, from how the school system is funded to the role of school board trustees.

"I am encouraging all Manitobans to get involved when the commissions start doing their hearings across the province," he said.

Lastly, Pedersen added that streamlining inter-provincial trade will be continue to be a priority in 2019.

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