January 15, 2024

Manitoba Elects First Nations Premier Following Promises for More Healthcare Workers

Manitoba achieved a historic milestone on October 3 when the province elected its first First Nations premier, Wab Kinew. This charismatic leader, known for his background in music, literature, journalism, and Indigenous inclusion, has gained recognition not only for his heritage but also for his ambitious promises to improve the provincial healthcare system. In this blog, we'll delve into Kinew's remarkable journey, his healthcare-focused campaign, and how it's poised to impact immigration and recruitment strategies in Manitoba.

Wab Kinew: A Man of Many Talents

Wab Kinew's rise to prominence is nothing short of remarkable. A former rapper, author, and journalist, he also served as the first director of Indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg. His journey in politics began when he was elected as the leader of the Manitoba NDP in 2017. However, it was his vision for a more robust healthcare system that captured the attention of Manitobans and led to his historic election as premier.

Healthcare Promises Driving Change

Kinew's election as the First Nations premier is undoubtedly a historic moment, but it's the specific promises to enhance healthcare that resonated with the electorate. In an era where healthcare is a critical concern, Kinew pledged to hire 300 nurses and 400 physicians over four years, setting in motion an ambitious plan to bolster the province's healthcare workforce. He also plans to establish a task force dedicated to spearheading a recruitment campaign, a move that underscores his commitment to effect change.

Additionally, Kinew aims to hire 200 paramedics within his first term, accelerate the accreditation process for internationally educated healthcare professionals, and reinstate health coverage for international post-secondary students. These pledges not only underscore his commitment to improving healthcare but also indicate a growing need for professionals to fulfill these vital roles.

Manitoba's Global Recruitment Efforts

The number of healthcare professionals Kinew intends to recruit aligns with a report from Doctors Manitoba, which suggests that, in addition to sourcing talent from within Canada, the province should also consider healthcare professionals from the United States. Currently, Manitoba is leading an initiative to recruit nurses from the Philippines, offering comprehensive support and incentives for these healthcare workers to make Manitoba their new home.

The program includes assistance with immigration processes, paid licensing, bridging education where necessary, and even travel and accommodation allowances. Notably, more than 300 internationally educated nurses from the Philippines have already accepted employment offers, reinforcing the significance of Manitoba's global recruitment efforts.

The Role of Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Manitoba has a rich history of pioneering Canadian immigration strategy. In 1998, it launched the first Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in Canada. This program allows provincial governments to select candidates for immigration based on their potential to fill labor market gaps and contribute to the local economy.

In 2023, Manitoba boasts an allocation of 9,500 nominations through the PNP. It is considered a model for economic immigration and plays a pivotal role in the country's immigration strategy. As per the Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025, the PNP is set to admit 117,500 immigrants annually by the end of 2025.

Throughout 2023, Manitoba has been increasing the number of PNP draws targeting specific in-demand occupations, healthcare being one of them. This strategic approach is aimed at filling labor shortages in various sectors, such as healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, and hospitality.

Manitoba has also introduced a Strategic Recruitment Initiative for employers facing shortages of skilled workers. This initiative, akin to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP), allows employers to hire skilled workers from the Manitoba Skilled Workers Overseas stream of the MPNP. It is initiatives like these that make Manitoba a magnet for skilled immigrants.

Indigenous Representation in Canada

The election of Wab Kinew as Manitoba's premier is a significant milestone for First Nations representation in Canada. Census data from 2021 reveals that there are 1.8 million Indigenous people in the country, comprising 5% of the total population. Over 55% of them reside in western Canada, highlighting the importance of Kinew's election in this region.

The census also noted that Winnipeg, Manitoba's capital, is home to 90,990 Indigenous people, making it the city with the highest Indigenous population in the country. Furthermore, Manitoba is home to 63 First Nations, including six of the 20 largest bands in Canada.

Conclusion: A Bright Future for Manitoba

As Canada takes strides toward reconciliation with its Indigenous populations, the election of Wab Kinew as Manitoba's First Nations premier is a beacon of hope. His commitment to improving healthcare and the ensuing recruitment strategies are shaping a brighter future for the province. With the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program at the forefront of economic immigration, Manitoba continues to lead the way in welcoming skilled professionals to its diverse and vibrant community.

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