Smarter kids, more daycare expected in PC throne speech

According to a government spokesperson the Progressive Conservative government's third throne speech will include a promise to launch an early learning and childcare strategy for the province. That will involve creating new childcare spaces and reducing wait times for admission to daycare.

Pallister will take a secondary role in selling agenda following accident in New Mexico

Expect more of the PC theme of 'fixing finances, repairing services' in throne speech. (CBC News)

The Progressive Conservative government's third throne speech will include a promise to launch an early-learning and childcare strategy for the province, a government spokesperson says. 

That will involve creating new childcare spaces and reducing wait times for parents wanting to get their kids into daycare.

The goal, the spokesperson told CBC News, will be to "foster better outcomes for children."

The throne speech will continue three themes the Tories say they have been pursuing since being elected in 2016: fixing Manitoba's finances, rebuilding the economy and repairing services.

The few specifics known to be in the speech today focus on children. 
PC government's third throne speech will see new funding to improve reading and math skills in young children. (CBC News)

There will be new legislation that cuts red tape for early childhood educators, plus added resources and programming to improve literacy and numeracy skills in young children.

That last pledge is one the PC government made in its November 2016 throne speech and an issue the Tories campaigned on during the election, saying Manitoba lags behind other provinces in key skills such as math and reading.

It's not clear whether the government will announce firm details today on other promises it has made in previous throne speeches. 

Specifics on a review of Manitoba Justice with an eye to become more efficient and reduce court times, as well as a provincial housing strategy, were announced in the government's earlier throne speeches but have yet to be realized.

The NDP Opposition offered an alternative throne speech last week that featured interest-free loans for Manitobans to purchase their first electric vehicles and pledged to reverse changes the PC government has made to some areas of health-care delivery.

The Liberals also promise to restore some services eliminated by the Tories and re-open the Misericordia urgent care clinic.

In a statement called "If this were a Manitoba Liberal Throne Speech," the Liberals also promised to improve relations with the federal government on several issues, including infrastructure funding, health care and First Nations education.

"Instead of picking fights with the federal government and threatening to sue them, we will work positively and negotiate with them," the Liberal statement says.

Broken arm keeps premier on the bench

Throne speeches, budgets and major policy announcements usually mean a front-and-centre Premier Brian Pallister, but a hiking injury is forcing the former athlete to take a secondary role today.
A broken arm will sideline Premier Brian Pallister for much of the next week. (PC government/Submitted)

According to Pallister's communications director, Chisolm Pothier, the normally loquacious premier will appear only briefly at the legislature today and will not take the brunt of media questions after the speech.

Deputy Premier and Justice Minister Heather Stefanson will take Pallister's place fielding questions.

It's not quite the middle of the Progressive Conservative government's mandate, but close enough that the throne speech could mark the latter half of the PCs' first term in office.

Today's throne speech could signal where Pallister's government is going, with the 2020 election in mind.