Throne speech eyes transit, roads, education, adoptions

CBC News has learned a regional high school that serves primarily aboriginal students is to get a major funding boost in the speech from the throne Tuesday.
The Selinger government will outline its priorities for the coming session Tuesday, and will include a funding boost for the Frontier Collegiate Institute, CBC has learned. (Google Street View )

CBC News has learned a regional high school that serves primarily aboriginal students is to get a major funding boost in the speech from the throne Tuesday.

Good news for Winnipeg and for people in the Morris area.

A provincial spokesman confirms the throne speech will reveal an expanded role by the government in the construction of the second phase of rapid transit in Winnipeg.

Also, the province says there will be a plan for a Headingley bypass to make travel safer. The area has had a number of fatal crashes in recent years.

The province will also announce a plan to keep Highway 75 dry during flood season, raising the road in the Morris area.

The Frontier Collegiate Institute in Cranberry Portage, which according to the province plays a crucial role in providing skills training, will play an important role as the Selinger government focuses on improving aboriginal graduation rates.

The government said the school will help the government meet its target of adding 75,000 workers to the workforce by 2020.

The Chief Superintendent for the Frontier School Division, Ray Derksen, told CBC Monday night the Frontier Collegiate Institute is in line for $23 million.

He said the division will use the money to build a new residence with 200 beds and a new power mechanics facility.

"We are thrilled about (the funding). We're going to hit the ground running. Construction will begin immediately."​

Premier Greg Selinger may have signalled the move in October, when he shuffled his cabinet and put himself in charge of a new portfolio called Skills Strategy.

Selinger has already said his government's focus in the coming legislative session will be on jobs and infrastructure.

The Progressive Conservative opposition says its focus will remain reminding the government that it raised the provincial sales tax 'illegally,' and criticizing it for overspending.

Red River College applauds emphasis on skills training

The president of Red River College applauds the government's commitment to enhance skills training.

Stephanie Forsyth said aboriginal skills training was a major part of the Premier's Skills Summit announced in last year's throne speech.

She said helping aboriginal students get into post secondary school will help Manitoba in general.

"Anything that does anything to enhance the education level of students would be great, because that's the barrier that they have in accessing, for example, a school like Red River College," she said.

Forsyth said she looks forward to details about the government's investments in skills training.

Winnipeg's wish list includes money for roads, sewers

Winnipeg City councillor Russ Wyatt said he hopes the province focuses mainly on funding for infrastructure, especially for the city's aging roads and sewers.

He said that approach could have a two-pronged benefit.

"There's so many things that we could do if we were able to fix the crumbling infrastructure," he said. "Not only could we address social issues in our city by hiring more people, but we could actually grow our economy as well."

Adoption files to be opened?

Thousands of Manitobans hope Tuesday's throne speech will follow through on a promise to open adoption records, both for adoptees and for birth families.

The province passed legislation in 1999, but access was not retroactive.

Cindy Dunning said that means information about her medical history was initially out of reach.

"Why are some provinces different than other provinces?" she said. "Who thinks at a young age you (have) got to worry about cancer? But if I would have known there was cancer in our family...." her voice trailing off.

She said it's not fair that people in other jurisdictions have access to information that Manitobans can not reach.

Dunning was adopted as a child and had to fight for her birth family's medical information.

The province has promised to open up adoption files prior to 1999, but so far, that has not happened.

The Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, Philip Lee, will read the speech from the throne outlining the government's agenda for the coming session, starting around 1 p.m.


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