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Reflecting on the first year

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After one year as MLA for the Swan River constituency, Rick Wowchuk reflected on the changes that have been made and the work still to be completed.

“It’s been a good year, and quite the learning experience,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being in government working hard for all Manitobans, but especially for the residents of this region.

“I have found the job very challenging, but I am proud to be playing a role in improving Manitoba, and we are on the road to making it the most improved province.”

After thinking about the new position and how he’s handled his first year, Wowchuk noted that it’s been more than he expected.

“I put my heart and soul into things like this, and I find this is a 24/7 kind of job,” he said. “I take every issue that my constituents bring forth as a challenge to address and work for positive results.

“In this first year, we’ve started a number of projects and have sown the seeds, but are still working towards the final goal. Even in this next year, the goal is to continue advocating for the constituents, and expand on the existing projects.”

Mentioning some of the bigger projects he is proud to have played a role in starting or completing, Wowchuk noted the proposal to remove the monopoly in the freshwater fish market, expanding fall camping to Blue Lakes in the Duck Mountains, reducing the red tape for businesses and non-profit organizations, as well as striving to improve health care in the region.

“We have the toolboxes in place for these projects and now just need to fill them with the right tools,” he said.

“A lot of this work is about partnerships and working to see what each community has to offer and then growing those relationships in a collaborative effort to have positive outcomes.”

But, as with any new position, there have been some challenges he’s had to overcome.

“One of the big challenges we’ve faced as a government is dealing with the debt and deficit that was left behind,” said Wowchuk. “In order to try to fix the finances, repair services and rebuild the economy, our government has had to make some tough decisions, and we’re asking the public to have trust in us as we move forward.

“It’s sometimes tough to see how these changes will improve the province, but we are working to be consistent in our projects.

“Personally, it’s been hard to navigate the hoops of policy,” Wowchuk continued. “Sometimes people will think it’s easy to just jump into a project or find a solution, but there are protocols we have to follow, and so I have to commend my office staff for helping to keep up with constituent concerns so I can take them forward.”

Wowchuk also noted that his work as Legislative Assistant to the Minister of Sustainable Development Cathy Cox has opened him up to the concerns of constituents across the province, and that’s added a different level to his job.

“We can’t guarantee a positive outcome in every situation, but we know people want to be heard and we do our best to deal with each situation so none of them go unanswered,” he said. “It’s been a very overwhelming task.”

But, Wowchuk has said the year has been rewarding overall.

“The most rewarding things are when people come and say thank you for the work we’ve done or for listening to their concerns,” he said.

“I’ve also enjoyed getting to know each community. They’re all similar in some ways, but each one has concerns that rises to the top, and they all have such dedicated people that want to make their homes better over time.

“I’ve been able to take in conferences, galas, suppers, meetings, participate in cheque presentations, graduations and so many other community events, and it’s all a part of learning more about the people I represent,” Wowchuk concluded.

“It’s been such an exciting year, and while I still have lots to learn, I’m going to keep working hard on each new challenge and we’ll see how it goes from here.”

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Jessica Bergen
REPORTER
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