Manitoba’s longest-serving female MLA, Bonnie Mitchelson, today announced she will be starting a new chapter in her life and will not seek re-election. When her term expires she will have served in the Manitoba Legislature for 30 years.
First elected in 1986, Mitchelson was afforded many opportunities to serve her community and all Manitobans in both government and opposition. She was given significant responsibilities and was valued and respected by her cabinet and caucus colleagues.
“This is a day to celebrate a remarkable career and a remarkable friend. Bonnie has been and continues to be a tireless MLA and an individual whose depth and understanding of Manitoba politics is beyond compare,” said Brian Pallister, Leader of the Official Opposition.
Mitchelson, who was elected eight consecutive times, said the decision to retire was a difficult one, but made in consultation with her family who has stood by her as she worked for her community, often putting results for those she represented ahead of partisan politics.
“It has been an absolute honour and a privilege to serve River East and Manitoba. The confidence expressed in me by my constituents and the volunteers who stood with me election after election have touched me deeply. It is the many people I have shared this journey with that have made it so wonderful and rewarding,” said Mitchelson.
As she looks to the future of her party, Mitchelson said she has nothing but confidence in her Leader, Brian Pallister, and a fresh, new team that is building and ready to tackle the NDP in the next election.
Bonnie Mitchelson is the longest serving female MLA in Manitoba’s history. She is also the second longest sitting MLA currently serving in the Legislature.
During her time in government Mitchelson held many portfolios and responsibilities including:
- Minister of Culture, Heritage and Recreation and Minister responsible for Lotteries, Multiculturalism and Citizenship from 1988 to 1993;
- Minister responsible for the Status of Women from 1990 - 1992;
- Minister of Family Services from 1993 - 1999, the longest serving social services minister in Canada;
- The first woman to lead the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba when she was selected as Interim Leader in 2000.
Among her many accomplishments in government, Mitchelson:
- Began negotiations on the successful Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), a first in Canada. Close to 10,000 immigrants entered Manitoban via the PNP in 2013. That’s the second highest in Canada.
- Continued provincial funding for Manitoba’s film and sound industry allowing it to survive and thrive after funding was withdrawn by the federal government. By introducing tax credits for film and video production in Manitoba it has grown that industry to exceed half a billion in the past five years.
- Stabilized and raised funding for women’s shelters. Adequate safety measures were put in place. Standards of care were established and implemented. Adequate spaces were provided to women and children in need. More training was provided for workers.
- Supported the establishment of the Winnipeg Family Violence Court that was specifically dedicated to dealing with issues of family violence – making the process faster, using personnel who were trained to deal with family issues. It became a Canadian model.
- Introduced the Taking Charge Project. This initiative continues to exist today and provides special supports to integrate single parents into the labour force.
- Established the Children and Youth Secretariat in 1994. It was the first successful interdepartmental program in Canada dealing with children and youth that reduced barriers and coordinated services across government departments for families and communities.
- Introduced the first active program to deal with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome across Canada;
Bonnie has been a strong voice and advocate for constituents and community projects in River East resulting in:
- The construction of 120 beds at River East Personal Care Home, 120 beds at the Kildonan Personal Care Home, and 140 beds at Concordia Place Personal Care Home;
- The 40 bed addition and renovation of Donwood Manor Personal Care Home;
- The creation and development of the Congregate Meal Programs in seniors’ apartment blocks at 1630 & 1100 Henderson Hwy;
- The establishment of the Seniors Health and Wellness Resource Team;
- The funding for startup of Good Neighbours Active Living Centre;
- The completion of twin arenas for Gateway Recreation Centre and the Gateway Soccerplex;
- The expansion of Calvin Christian School;
- The completion of the Northeast link of the Perimeter Highway (from Dugald Road to Lagimodiere Boulevard).