May long weekend has a special place in the hearts of Canadians. It is our symbolic end of winter and the beginning of the wonderful days of summer. But the weather has not always cooperated on that special weekend and most Manitobans who have lived in the province for a few years likely remember more cool and damp May long weekends than warm and sunny ones.
And if there was ever a time when we were deserving of a nice weekend it was this one. And, it was delivered. Throughout the Steinbach Constituency there were people lined up for ice cream, biking and walking, golfing on our local courses, enjoying meals on outdoor patios and generally taking full advantage of the weather. While Manitoba was among the last provinces in Canada to impose restrictions because of the global pandemic, and among the first to begin lifting them, the ability to be able to experience a beautiful Manitoba weekend was much needed.
And because the global pandemic and the coronavirus is still with us and still needs to be dealt with responsibly, we must generally continue as citizens to stay safe. Indeed, the message is no longer “stay home”, unless you are ill, but to “stay safe” and to follow the public health guidelines. Manitobans have done an extraordinary job during these difficult times and as a result the virus numbers in our province are among the lowest in Canada.
As a result, Manitoba is poised to be able to accelerate its reopening plans. Early in May, Phase 1 of the reopening plan began, one of the most aggressive plans in Canada. And now, because of the collective efforts of Manitobans, the Phase 2 reopening plan can move forward and even more quickly than what was first anticipated. This is good news for Manitobans and for Manitoba businesses which have done such an outstanding job during the global pandemic.
In fact, while most other provinces are behind Manitoba in their reopening plans, across the country there are significant signs of the economy being reopened in most provinces. However the federal government has decided to keep the International borders closed and to severely limit international travel. Fortunately, commercial travel continues even though that has been significantly reduced.
As I talk to my counterparts in other parts of Canada and the midwestern United States, it is clear that our province is in a relatively enviable position when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus. And that is a testament to Manitobans as a whole. As we continue to stay safe and live with the virus, we also have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best of what Manitoba has to offer during this spring season. And most of all, we have the ability to do what Manitobans always have done in times of challenge, be optimistic, help one another, and spread hope.