A new provincial report says too many groups are doing economic development work across rural and northern Manitoba, and recommends a “single window of delivery” be created instead.
Titled Manitoba Connects: Building A New Rural Manitoba Economic Development Strategy, the 37-page report by Serby Consulting contains findings from consultations begun by the province last fall to take a closer look at a system deemed by many to have become unnecessarily bureaucratic among a confusing number of groups.
“The province is viewed as having too many organizations doing economic development work, especially within the provincial government,” the report says. “As a result there is much perceived duplication and overlap of services and there is much confusion among the client base, and grassroots staff about where to go and who does what.”
Various agencies’ mandates are seen as being “too broad” and diluting the economic development effort as a whole. Concern is also cited that government is after big development while many smaller clients are being ignored.
A single entity, or federation, “will broaden co-operation and encourage organizations to work together… knowing they’re part of a structure that will assist them, not threaten them,” the report adds.
A larger, better-funded federation model would have a strong presence regionally, with greater access to human and other resources, the report notes. At the same time, “priorities and programs will continue to be established by those who best understand the needs of various client groups.”
Manitoba Connects and its recommendations are similar to those cited nearly six years ago in a report from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), whose Task Force on Economic Development cited local leaders’ concerns that economic service delivery was resulting in duplication and overlap, costing taxpayers millions annually to support all the various federal, provincial and local groups.
AMM’s report also called for more focused, co-operative service delivery and for increased accountability.
Manitoba Connects is the first phase of a provincial plan to create a more efficient model for service delivery, according to Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk, who released the report at Capturing Opportunities in Brandon last month.
“Manitobans have spoken about the need to better coordinate the services provided to entrepreneurs and communities in Manitoba to achieve greater results,” she said in a news release. “We are now ready to take further steps with our partners to more closely coordinate efforts to achieve this objective.”
Manitoba Connects can be downloaded at http://www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/news/[email protected]