Kinew Unveils New Manitoba Cabinet

Michael Diamond

It was a historic day in Manitoba as Wab Kinew became the first Anishinaabe Premier of any Canadian province after a decisive win for his New Democratic Party on October 3rd, being sworn in by Lt. Governor Anita Neville at Winnipeg’s iconic Assiniboia Park. 

A divisive campaign, which focused partially on the former Government's refusal to search a Winnipeg area landfill for the remains for 3 missing and murdered indigenous women whose remains are presumed to be at the site, saw the NDP take 34 seats in the 57 seat Legislature, the Progressive Conservatives reduced to 22, and the Manitoba Liberal Party taking just one seat in the north end of Winnipeg. The New Democrats focused on fixing healthcare and affordability during the election. 

Kinew, aged 41, will serve as the 25th Premier and is also the only provincial Premier to previously have had a career in music as a recorded rap artist. In addition to serving as Premier, Kinew will act as Minister of Intergovernmental Relations and Indigenous Reconciliation. In his remarks the new Premier began by speaking in the 7 indigenous languages of Manitoba.

In addition to Premier Kinew, 14 members of the NDP caucus were sworn into Manitoba’s Executive Council - a reduction of 4 from the previous government. This is the most diverse Cabinet in the province’s history and the first to be gender balanced.

Manitoba’s new Cabinet includes the first two First Nations women to serve in the province’s Executive Council with the appointments of Nahanni Founite, the MLA for St Johns first elected in 2016 will serve as Minister of Families (with responsibility for accessibility and gender equity) and Bernedet Smith, first elected MLA for Point Douglas in a 2017 by-election will serve as Minister of Housing, Mental Health and Addiction, and Homelessness.

Although Kinew has a great deal of options in building his Cabinet, he did lack experience. The only member of the new Cabinet to have previous experience within the ranks of government is Ron Kostyshyn who has previously served as MLA and 2011-2016 and was re-elected in this past election in the rural riding of Dauphin. Kostyshyn will serve as Minister of Agriculture, as he had previously served from 2012-2016.

Uzoma Asagwara, the MLA for the downtown Winnipeg riding of Union Station, who was first elected in 2019, will be the Minister of Health and Deputy Premier. They had previously served as health critic while in opposition. Health care was a major focus of the 2023 NDP election platform, and Asagwara will play a significant role in the new government. Of note the former Ministry of Seniors and Long Term Care has been abolished and will once again be part of the Ministry of Health. In his speech Kinew called for a whole of government approach to improve healthcare in the province.

Adrien Sala, the MLA for the west Winnipeg district of St. James since 2019 will be the Minister of Finance and also Minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro. Sala will be tasked with several important measures from the 2023 election platform including cutting the tax on fuel by .14 cents a litre. 

The other new Ministers are:

Minister of Justice & Attorney General, and Minister of the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation: Matt Wiebe, MLA for Concordia who was first elected in a 2009 by-election to replace former Premier Gary Doer. 

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Learning: Nello Altomare, a teacher first elected MLA for the east Winnipeg district of Transcona in the 2019 election. 

Minister of Municipal and Northern Relations and Minister of Indigenous Economic Development: Ian Bushie, the MLA for the vast northern and predominantly indigenous district of Keewatinook since 2019. 

Minister of Labour and Immigration: Malaya Marcelino, the MLA for the central Winnipeg constituency of Notre Dame when she was elected in 2019 to replace her mother, a former NDP Minister.

Minister of Economic Development, Trade, and Natural Resources: Jamie Moses, the MLA from the south Winnipeg constituency of St. Vital since 2019.

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and Minister of Consumer Protection and Government Services: Lisa Naylor, who has served as MLA for the downtown Winnipeg constituency of Wolseley since 2019 and who had previously served as a school board trustee. 

Minister of Advanced Education and Training: Renée Cable, newly elected in 2023 in the south Winnipeg constituency of Southdale. 

Minister of Environment and Climate Change: Tracy Schmidt, elected for the first time in this election for the northeast Winnipeg district of Rossmere. 

Minister of Sport, Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Minister of Francophone Affairs, and Minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation: Glen Simard, the MLA for the West Manitoba urban riding of Brandon East who was first elected on October 3rd. 

Upstream will provide more updates as more information is available.  Please reach out to discuss how these changes might impact your advocacy efforts.