As the Manitoba legislature enters its break for the holidays, just one government bill introduced this sitting received royal assent — and unanimous support in the house.
Bill 7, the Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (Leave for Victims of Interpersonal Violence), extends the ability to grant work leaves to victims of any interpersonal violence, whether they know their assailants or not. This could include victims of sexual violence or stalking.
Previously, the legislation only allowed leaves for victims of domestic violence.
"It just really sends a message to Manitobans that our government recognizes the importance of ensuring that we address those very important issues that affect women. It just touches my heart (that it was) unanimously accepted by the entire chamber. So it really does speak to the importance of this bill," Status of Women Minister Cathy Cox said in an interview.
Both opposition leaders also introduced private members' bills on the last day of the sitting.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew brought forth a bill that would recognize Louis Riel as the first premier of Manitoba.
Short of having a time machine, Kinew said bestowing the honorary title on Riel now would be the next best way to celebrate him during Manitoba's 150th anniversary festivities in 2020.
"I guess this is a way that we can accurately reflect the contribution that Mr. Riel made to our province. Which is that he founded our first government, called it a province, it was admitted to Canada as such, and our first prime minister recognized his contributions and recognized his authority most importantly, by coming and engaging with him and negotiating the entry of Manitoba into Confederation," Kinew said.
"The bill also contemplates that the minster of education should take a look at the curriculum in Manitoba and just make sure that it accurately reflects the contributions that Louis Riel made to our province’s history."
Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont introduced a private member's bill that would ensure any changes to the Election Financing Act or Elections Act be approved by at least two-thirds of the legislative assembly members.
MLAs will return to the house March 4, 2020, to further debate legislation.
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.