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In Brief… – for Dec. 23, 2010

Strikes doused:Collective bargaining disputes involving unionized part-time rural firefighters would be settled by binding arbitration and no work stoppages would be permitted under proposed legislation introduced this month by Labour and Immigration Minister Jennifer Howard.

“This legislation will ensure that all unionized firefighters are treated the same and that work stoppages don’t affect public safety in any way,” Howard said. “At the same time, it will ensure that municipalities and unionized firefighters will have a fair method to solve contract disputes.” – Staff Rural doctors:Manitoba medical students who agree to work in areas most in need of doctors will have their medical school costs fully covered by the province under a new program announced Dec. 9 by Premier Greg Selinger.

In total, students will have access to a maximum of $61,000 over four years in exchange for a 2-1/2-year commitment to underserviced communities.

Students will also still be eligible for the Manitoba tuition-tax rebate and the federal textbook rebate. –Staff

That’s the spirit:Maple Leaf

Agri-Farms and Hytek Ltd. joined forces with the Manitoba Pork Council (MPC) to donate $4,000 to Southeast Helping Hands in Steinbach earlier this month. The donation went towards buying meat and other food items to fill up to 850 hampers for hungry families. MPC allocates $1,000 to each of its member districts every year to be distributed to a worthy cause. The two hog-producing companies matched their districts’ allocation to double it. A number of the area’s pork producers also regularly donate hogs to the group.

Staff

FCC backs rural projects:

Eleven groups in rural Manitoba will receive support through Farm Credit Canada’s AgriSpirit Fund for 2010. Projects in Arborg, Balmoral, Brandon, Gimli, Ile de Chenes, Portage la Prairie, Rosenort, Russell, and Steinbach will collectively receive $83,600 out of $1 million going to 104 rural community groups across Canada.

The program awards rural community groups between $5,000 and $25,000 for community improvement projects. Applications for the 2011 FCC AgriSpirit Fund open May 2, 2011. Visit www.agrispirit.ca for more information. –Staff The big cheese:Bothwell

Cheese has been awarded a first-place trophy at the prestigious 83rd Annual British Empire Cheese Show in the Marble Cheddar class – the fifth consecutive year the Manitoba-based cheese maker has taken first place in the category. This is believed to be the first time any cheese maker has won first place in the competition five years in a row. “It’s a tremendous feat to be recognized by such a prestigious organization, especially considering the high calibre of the competition,” says Bothwell Cheese president and CEO Ivan Balenovic.

– Staff

Charitable bunch:Manitoba

ranks as Canada’s most generous province, but once again Canadian charitable donations pale in comparison to those from Americans, according to a new report on private monetary generosity from the Fraser Institute.

Manitoba topped all Canadian provinces for the 12th straight year in the Fraser Institute’s annual report on charitable giving by having the highest percentage of total income donated to registered charities (0.94 per cent) and the second-highest percentage of tax filers donating to charity (26.7 per cent). –Staff Refinancing debt:Maple Leaf Foods has agreed to refinance $355 million in debt as it carries out a $1-billion plan to modernize and consolidate its meat-packing plants. Maple Leaf earlier this year announced a plan to boost earnings by making its meat-processing plants more efficient by adding new technologies and closing some plants.

Maple Leaf said earlier a private placement transaction for 25 per cent of its shares, previously held by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, had been completed.

Watershed research:

University of Manitoba soil scientist David Lobb has been named to the province’s first-ever research chair in watershed systems. A research chair at the University of Manitoba was recommended by both the Clean Environment Commission and the Lake Winnipeg Stewardship Board and is supported with an investment from the Manitoba government of $1.25 million over five years.

Lobb’s program will focus on how nutrients that cause algal blooms move off Manitoba’s relatively flat Prairie landscape and into waterways, and to identify prevention measures.

–Staff

One big farm:Sprott Resource

Corp. said on Dec. 16 that it will invest $30 million in its One Earth Farms Corp. subsidiary to make it Canada’s biggest operating crop and cattle farm in 2011. Sprott said it plans to exercise 30 million warrants in One Earth, increasing its ownership interest to 80 per cent from 66.7 per cent.

One Earth Farms leases land in Western Canada, mainly from Aboriginal reserves. The company says it is negotiating with more than 40 First Nations representing more than two million acres of land across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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