Home » The Canadian Press » Manitoba Increases Funding for Winnipeg Pride, Premier Stefanson to Walk in Parade

Manitoba Increases Funding for Winnipeg Pride, Premier Stefanson to Walk in Parade

May 23, 2023 5:13 PM | The Canadian Press

By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

Heather Stefanson

Heather Stefanson looks on during a press conference in Brandon, Man., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith, POOL)

WINNIPEG — The relationship between Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and Pride Winnipeg showed signs of thawing Tuesday, although she remains under a one-year ban from speaking at the annual rally for the LGBTQ community.

Stefanson said she has been working with the community since June, when she spoke at the rally but did not take part in the ensuing march.

“It was wrong and we recognize that,” Stefanson said Tuesday.

“I’ve been working very closely with the community since then to make sure that we get things back on track here in Manitoba.”

Stefanson said last year there was a miscommunication with organizers and she left before the march started to attend another event in Winnipeg — her third of the day. Other members of the Progressive Conservative caucus took part in the march.

Pride Winnipeg said at the time Stefanson’s staff had committed to having the premier walk in the parade, and said Stefanson would be banned from speaking for at least one year

Barry Karlenzig, president of Pride Winnipeg, said Tuesday Stefanson is welcome to march this year but will remain banned from speaking at the rally until next year.

“She and her caucus have accepted that and are working with us,” Karlenzig said.

“That sign of walking and showing solidarity is a step forward.”

Families Minister Rochelle Squires is scheduled to speak on the government’s behalf at the rally, he added.

The comments came as the province announced more funding for Pride events and services for the LGBTQ community.

Pride Winnipeg is to receive annual grants of $250,000, which allows the organization to hire staff and offer year-round programming.

The Progressive Conservative government is also putting up $490,000 over two years to help decrease wait lists for people requiring gender-affirming care and surgical procedures. Another $700,000 is to go to integrated health-care services and support for young people seeking gender-affirming care.

The government is also expanding and renaming its Status of Women secretariat to a new Gender Equity Manitoba secretariat.

The Opposition New Democrats said the funding is welcome, but government must also take a stronger stance in its public statements about the LBGTQ community.

The NDP pointed to a move by some residents in Brandon, Man., to remove some LGBTQ and sexual education books from school libraries. The board was scheduled to hear from members of the public Tuesday night.

“In 2023, it should not be difficult for the leaders of this province to stand up and say that books should not be banned,” NDP critic Lisa Naylor said.

Stefanson had previously said the decision rests with school boards, but took a stronger tone Tuesday.

“We’re past that as a society — the banning of books. While there is no book ban currently in place, I can assure you that we will consistently and constantly be monitoring the issue.”

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