Manitoba's Premier says while the province faces another Christmas with restrictions she has reason to be hopeful for what the future looks like.
Premier Heather Stefanson sat down with Golden West this week to talk about everything from the pandemic to the Bombers' recent Grey Cup win and plans to help Manitobans who are facing financial challenges.
Making decisions and helping businesses
"First of all, nobody likes to impose restrictions on Manitobans," Stefanson says in regards to the latest restrictions announced late last week. "It's very, very difficult and to do so, we do so based on the information that we have received."
When asked what goes on behind closed doors where these decisions are made, she says they're looking at a number of pieces of information from public health as well as other jurisdictions. We look at what's happening around the world, across the country, and sometimes decisions need to be made very, very quickly. Sometimes you know we're looking at this day by day. Sometimes it's hour by hour, or minute by minute as to you know how we're going to make these changes."
Stefanson says she believes it's important to try and give enough time for those impacted by changes to public health orders to make necessary changes. Restrictions have hit many industries hard and the Premier says it's important to her that there is assistance for those who need it.
"On that front some we have announced and already have some supports for Manitobans. Obviously, those are geared towards those who are impacted specifically by this round of restrictions I guess. So we will continue to monitor those we obviously want to get our businesses through this difficult time. We want to ensure they can stay afloat so that after that we are creating an environment that's conducive to growing those businesses. Here in Manitoba, we want to see them stay here and grow here so we can get our economy back up and running."
Keeping Manitobans in Manitoba is something extremely important to her, she says. As the new year approaches and the pandemic hopefully comes to an end she says that there is plenty of opportunity still ahead for Manitobans.
"We're trying to keep Manitobans safe through throughout this, but we know that there's hope and opportunity for the future. We know that pandemics do come to an end, and what we want to do is ensure that we're getting our economy back up and running, so again supporting those small and mid-sized businesses." She says that ensuring businesses have the tools to thrive on the other side of the pandemic will ensure the province's success in the future. "If we grow our economy, there's more money for health care, education, social services. But we're also running a significant deficit, and so there's got to be kind of a balanced approach to how we move forward."
"Be kind to one another"
When asked what gives her hope right now while looking to the future, Stefanson says the resiliency of Manitobans is at the top of the list. That, and that the pandemic will end.
"I think what gives me hope is that we know that we will get through this pandemic. It's going to be a little challenging over the next few months. I just asked Manitobans to be kind to one another, to be patient. We will get through this together and you know, that gives me hope.
"For the future, I know Manitobans are very resilient. I know people are exhausted with COVID. I mean people are tired of this. They want it to end, and so all I can say is we know from past history that pandemics do end, and when this one ends, we need to all be joined and united together towards ensuring that we're growing our economy and that Manitoba will be placed on a map around the world. So that's what we're certainly committed to and looking forward to working with Manitobans to that end."
Finding common ground
Talking about not only uniting her party, which faced a recent challenge to her leadership win, but also uniting the province, Stefanson says she wants Manitobans to come together no matter their political views.
"We need to work together. We've got some challenges ahead of us that we need to get through the pandemic and other challenges. And you know it's important that we do that together. I think we may have some differing opinions when it comes to how to deal with the pandemic. I think that there are other issues that I think that we can find some common ground on.
"So whether it's a party member or you know other people in various communities I think we will find that common ground and we will work towards ensuring that, especially when it comes to growing our economy, getting our businesses back up and running, you know all of these types of things I think that there are some great opportunities for us to work together for a better."
Family life as Premier, and her Christmas wish
Stefanson and her family were able to travel to Hamilton, Ont. to take in the Bombers Grey Cup victory. She says it wasn't just a fun game to watch as a fan, but something citizens of Manitoba can take away lessons from.
"It puts us on the map around the world and across the country and shows that we're resilient in our province. When we are given difficult tasks to do we make it happen, and I think that's what the Bombers did this season. It was incredible.
"I think it just shows who we are as Manitobans as well."
Stefanson says her family has adjusted well to her new role as Premier of Manitoba. Her kids have never known anything different as her daughter was born one year to the day after her first election victory.
"Her birthday and my anniversary, that date together is a special day, November 21st, every year for us."
As for what you get a Premier for Christmas, Stefanson says her wishlist is pretty simple this year: "I want the pandemic to end," she says.