Throne speech highlights drunk driving rules, gambling strategy, no mention of meth crisis

Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government is temporarily halting any expansion of gambling in the province, and will also look at new rules against impaired driving.

However, in the Throne Speech laid out Tuesday is no mention of the province’s worsening meth crisis or a strategy to deal with it.

The government’s agenda for the coming year also includes plans to move more employable people off welfare and to simplify taxes and royalties for the oil and gas sector.

The throne speech says any further expansion of gambling will be paused pending a review of the province’s gaming strategy.

It also says assessments of people on welfare will be more timely and consistent, with new supports to help those who can work move toward employment.

The Tories also plan more immediate roadside penalties for drivers with lower-level alcohol in their system, and
performance-based funding for colleges.

As with most throne speeches, the 12-page document discusses plans in broad terms, and details are expected on each item in the weeks to come.

Nothing about meth

Despite many promises that a plan was forthcoming from the province, the throne speech contains nothing about dealing with the worsening meth crisis.

The Manitoba Nurses Union reported a 1,200 per cent increase in meth-related emergency room visits since 2013 earlier this fall, and Winnipeg police have said dealing with people high on meth has stretched them beyond the limit.

On the campaign trail, Mayor Brian Bowman chastised the Province for moving too slowly to deal with the problem.

“We need action,” he said. “We needed action a long time ago.”

Premier Brian Pallister told reporters Tuesday that the throne speech isn’t the only time that governments make announcements.

He said meth is not the only addiction problem in the province and that addicts often switch between different types of drugs.

Health minister Cameron Friesen told Global News in October that a comprehensive meth strategy is in the works, although the full details of that plan have yet to be made public.

Highlights:

  • No expansion of the gambling industry pending a government review
  • New roadside penalties for drivers with lower-level alcohol in their system
  • New assessments to move employable people off welfare
  • Reduced wait times for cataract surgery, joint replacements and diagnostic imaging
  • Simplified taxes and royalties for the oil and gas sector
  • New consumer protection measures regarding high-pressure direct sales
  • New supports for victims of domestic violence as they deal with the courts
  • Mandate letters and performance-based funding for colleges
  • A new law to restore the requirement for a referendum on major tax increases

-With files from Brittany Greenslade and The Canadian Press

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