View From the Legislature

The Best Ideas

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

It pays to ask for advice. That has been the result of a unique Manitoba program which asks those closest to the problem to come up with a solution.

During our first term, our Progressive Conservative government created what is known as the Idea Fund. It is part of a whole-of-government approach to help modernize our public service and work to find better and more efficient ways of delivering services for Manitobans. Those savings can than be reinvested into other programs and services.

Millions of dollars were set aside in the Idea Fund and public servants were asked to come up with suggestions on how to deliver programs more effectively and which would result in the saving of tax dollars. Funds were available in the Idea Fund with the hope that by investing in the ideas that came forward there would be long term savings realized. Many of the proposals resulted in small changes that have, in total, saved millions of dollars for Manitoba taxpayers.

One of the ideas brought forward by the public service was to spend $155,000 on a system that will automatically send an electronic signal to a supplier when any of the 2,300 government network printers needs a new toner. It is estimated that this automation will save $1.1 million over four years, a return on investment of over 720 per cent. Manitoba Justice is investing $9,000 on video conferencing equipment to eliminate the need to travel to meetings and create work efficiencies as a result. These are just two of many ideas which have come from Manitoba public servants that will help government run more effectively and more efficiently.

The Idea Fund is being expanded to other areas of government as well. During the most recent provincial election, we announced that if re-elected our government would implement a Teacher’s Idea Fund that would have resources to capitalize on ideas that Manitoba teachers have to help improve school operations and student outcomes. The Teacher’s Idea Fund will begin to be implemented this year and we look forward to the ideas that will be presented. A similar fund has been established for the healthcare system.

The Manitoba government, like all provincial governments, is a large enterprise that delivers thousands of services and employs tens of thousands of people. In any large organization, there are many ideas on how to do things better. The challenge is in trying to ensure that those ideas from those who are working on the front lines are able to be heard and actioned in an environment where there are many things competing for the attention of decision makers. Though initiatives like the Idea Fund our government is working to ensure that those who are working on the front lines of our public service can have their ideas heard and actioned.