The Manitoba government is looking to create a business reopening roadmap similar to neighbouring Saskatchewan, despite saying the exact opposite less than one week ago.
On Monday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister told reporters he "liked Saskatchewan’s forward-looking approach," and will soon announce a "project like that, that’s been underway for some time."
"It’s going to put some hope in people," said Pallister. "And it’s going to keep us on the defensive with Team Manitoba."
It remains to be seen how Manitoba had been working on this kind of roadmap for "some time" when the province said they were not interested in such a plan earlier.
This past Wednesday, the province told the Free Press Saskatchewan’s three-pronged approach — which hinges on vaccination levels for different age groups and would allow that province to lift public-health restrictions using a targeted timeline this summer — is "just an one-page infographic (sic)."
"In August of 2020, Manitoba launched the #RestartMB Pandemic Response System — the first of its kind in Canada — an online public health toolkit to provide detailed, timely and localized information about the current risk of COVID-19 and the specific measures being taken to reduce its spread and protect Manitobans. This system provides a guideline as to what can be open," Pallister’s spokeswoman wrote on his behalf in an email.
"In January 2021, Manitoba began its cautious and careful reopening process – which was covered by your paper."
Pallister’s spokeswoman touted Manitoba’s "most generous" emergency support programs, and said the Tories are in constant talks with the business community about "creating an environment for a sustained reopening of our economy, so our business community can safely re-open, and stay open."
She wrote, "We have been, and will continue to work side-by-side with all Manitoba businesses to help them do what they do best: employ Manitobans, and offer services Manitobans rely on."
Manitoba has not yet announced a date or timeline for its own version of a reopening roadmap.
— Temur Durrani
Temur Durrani reports on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the Winnipeg Free Press.