Bid for provincial stat holiday hits dead end

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ON the same day Premier Heather Stefanson’s state of the province address stated that Indigenous reconciliation is at the heart of her agenda, a bill to create a provincial stat honouring residential school survivors and their families died in the Manitoba legislature.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/12/2021 (359 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ON the same day Premier Heather Stefanson’s state of the province address stated that Indigenous reconciliation is at the heart of her agenda, a bill to create a provincial stat honouring residential school survivors and their families died in the Manitoba legislature.

NDP MLA Ian Bushie’s private member’s bill to make Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 a provincial statutory holiday was “talked out” — meaning time expired in the house before it could proceed to a vote. Thursday was the last day of a condensed legislative session. The house isn’t scheduled to return until March 2.

Stefanson said just because the bill died “doesn’t mean it won’t come back.”

“I think it’s part of reconciliation and moving forward on that front, if we do go in that direction,” she said after her inaugural speech at the annual Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce event. “We need to ensure that we talk to the business community and see what this means to them, that we talk to the Indigenous community and see what it means to them. There’s more work there that needs to be done.”

Chamber president and CEO Loren Remillard said he’s spoken to many members who are committed to truth and reconciliation but the provincial stat will have a financial cost and “companies are hurting across the board.”

“That’s why we have to consult with our membership,” Remillard said. “There are many ways to go about advancing the cause of truth and reconciliation,” he said. “The one day is one potential option to do that.” The federal government has already made Orange Shirt Day a stat for all federally regulated workers.

There’s been enough consulting, said NDP MLA Matt Wiebe.

“What I’ve heard from the business community and so many others is they want some clarification and some direction from the provincial government,” said Wiebe. “It’s very disappointing we didn’t move quickly on this,” he said.

Bushie, who introduced the Orange Shirt Day bill to make Sept. 30 a provincial stat, said he’s not giving up.

“We’re going to keep on pushing this issue… till we get resolution and get this passed because we believe this is the right thing to do and, in the spirit of reconciliation, this is necessary for us to do in Manitoba,” the MLA for Keewatinook said.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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