Rural immigration down
Immigration into rural Manitoba continues to fall, the province's latest immigration figures show.
Immigration outside the Perimeter Highway has tumbled 43 per cent the last five years, from 3,500 down to 2,000, the latest immigration figures show.
Winnipeg has seen its immigration increase 1,100, since 2009, to about 11,100 last year.
Total immigration to all parts of Manitoba in 2013 was 13,092, little changed from the previous year.
The Manitoba government said immigration to rural centres has been impacted by the federal government's cap on Provincial Nominee Program applicants and stricter English-language requirements introduced by Ottawa.
However, immigration consultants also blame Bill 22, the Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, which the NDP government introduced in 2009.
WRAPA forbids immigration brokers from finding jobs for newcomers, something they were allowed to do until 2009.
Immigration into Saskatchewan totalled 10,671 in 2013, but a third of its immigration was into rural areas.
MPI can reveal voter info
Manitoba's ombudsman has concluded Manitoba Public Insurance would not be violating privacy rules by providing certain personal information to Elections Canada to help it maintain voters lists.
Acting ombudsman Mel Holley issued a statement Wednesday approving the exchange of information after investigating the matter.
His office was asked by Elections Canada to comment on whether Manitoba's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act would permit disclosure of personal information about drivers for the purpose of updating its national register of electors. The personal information is held by MPI and is subject to restrictions on disclosure by FIPPA.
Elections Canada has authority under the Canada Elections Act to update the register from information held by provincial and territorial driver licensing agencies, among other sources.
The ombudsman concluded that FIPPA would permit disclosures to Elections Canada if MPI entered into an agreement with the federal voting body. The change would also involve amending a regulation under Canada Elections Act.
"Accurate and current information about Manitoba electors in the register facilitates Manitobans' exercise of their democratic rights," Holley said in a statement. "These disclosures would also benefit municipalities that rely on the register's information about Manitobans to administer elections."
Brandon's top earners
BRANDON -- Of the 67 City of Brandon employees who earned six-figure salaries last year, 45 work in the police department.
The city's annual compensation disclosure report, which lists all employees who made $50,000 or more, was released this week -- a requirement under Manitoba's Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act.
The top earner across the organization is city manager Scott Hildebrand ($193,952), followed by police Chief Ian Grant ($155,445).
Police inspectors Shane Corley and Douglas Thompson were at the top of the list with $137,619 and $129,657 respectively, as well as fire Chief Brent Dane ($135,847).
Ten more people were in the six-figure club in 2013 compared to 2012. The top 67 made a combined $28.3 million -- up $1 million compared to 2012.
Val Rochelle, the city's director of finance, said the million-dollar increase would be due to changes within collective agreements and overtime.
"Without a detailed analysis, I couldn't say that it's specifically one thing or another, but obviously there's going to be collective agreement, across-the-board salary increases, step increases within ranks and overtime," she said.
For the first time the Manitoba government will mark the beginning of Ramadan. Multiculturalism Minister Flor Marcelino will be celebrating the holy month of fasting with Manitoba Muslims in Room 200 of the legislature from 5 to 7 p.m. today.
The public is invited to attend and bring a non-perishable food item to donate to Winnipeg Harvest. Ramadan is a time when Muslims share and increase their empathy for the hungry through fasting, says the Islamic Social Services Association organizing the event. For information, see give30.ca.
For years, the Manitoba legislature has hosted a "festive season" open house before Christmas and Hanukkah. Members have acknowledged the Sikh community's Khalsa Day during question period.
-- staff / Brandon Sun