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Incoming Manitoba premier Wab Kinew says focus turns to fixing health care

WINNIPEG — Incoming Manitoba premier Wab Kinew said Wednesday he's ready to start the hard work as his New Democrats work to fulfil their campaign promise to fix health care.
Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew greets supporters after winning the Manitoba provincial election in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

WINNIPEG — Incoming Manitoba premier Wab Kinew said Wednesday he's ready to start the hard work as his New Democrats work to fulfil their campaign promise to fix health care.

Kinew held his first news conference since his party swept the Progressive Conservatives from power on Tuesday night to form a majority government. 

He said that work includes adding front-line health staff while building new emergency rooms and a cancer care facility.

"Fixing health care is probably one of the most daunting tasks that you could lay before a province at this time," said Kinew. 

"And yet, we have taken the time to listen to experts and lay out a credible path forward, and I believe that we will be able to execute on it."

In addition to staffing up the health-care system, Kinew committed to addressing other campaign promises within his first 100 days in office, including suspending the provincial fuel tax until inflation subsides and creating a universal school nutrition program. 

Kinew also suggested he is looking at having fewer cabinet ministers than the outgoing Tory government's 18-member cabinet. Each minister will be provided with a mandate letter that Kinew said will be made public. 

The incoming premier is set to become the first First Nations provincial premier in Canada. 

"Manitobans voted to come together for a positive vision of the future, and if along the way they elected an Indigenous premier, then I would say that's another testament to our country moving forward," said Kinew. 

"I didn't run on being the first First Nation's premier (of Manitoba). I put my name on the ballot to try to be the best premier."

The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke to Kinew and congratulated him. The Prime Minister's Office said in a summary of the conversation that the two spoke about affordability, health care, housing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. They also talked about revitalizing downtown Winnipeg, it said. 

Unofficial results from Elections Manitoba show the NDP won a majority government with 34 seats, the Tories finished with 22 and the Liberals were left with one. 

Some polls were still left to report as of Wednesday afternoon, including hospital, care homes and correctional facilities, said Mike Ambrose, director of communications with Elections Manitoba. 

Seven constituencies were still undecided with the NDP leading in five of them. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, outgoing Tory leader Heather Stefanson was narrowly holding onto her seat in the Winnipeg riding of Tuxedo. She announced on election night she would step down after leading the Tories for nearly two years. 

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont also resigned after he lost his Winnipeg riding.

A date for when the New Democrats take office has yet to be set. 

Kinew told reporters Wednesday that he's pleased voters rejected the politics of division and embraced his party’s message of unity.

“It's my intention to move the ball forward so that the future generation can do even more powerful things than we can imagine today,” said Kinew.

“(Becoming premier) is the most difficult thing that I've ever done in my life, and the real work hasn't even begun yet."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2023. 

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press