Present at the press conference announcing the move was Marilyn McLaren, President of MPI, and Stan Struthers, the former Minister of MAFRI.
“We are delighted to be assuming the responsibility of agricultural functions in the province,” said McLaren. “The Government has challenged us with this daunting task and we will meet this challenge to provide even better service to Manitobans both on the road and on the farm.”
McLaren also announced that MPI will be changing its name to reflect its new role. Effective immediately, the Crown corporation will now be known as Manitoba Public Insurance and Agriculture (MPIA).
“Going forward, once the merger is complete, farmers and producers will be able to use our Claim Centres, conveniently located throughout
, to sell their crops. Many of our locations are already equipped to handle large vehicles, so they will be able to deliver their crops to us, where our adjusters can assess their value and arrange for payment. While we assess their crop, our adjusters can also examine their pickup truck or combine for damage and advise them as to whether or not to file a claim. Once we complete the necessary cross training for our adjusters, Manitoba will have truly broken new ground in providing this level of convenience for their farmers.” Manitoba
McLaren also reached out to affected MAFRI employees.
“No one will lose their job as a result of this merger. We will welcome them into the MPIA family and begin the process of orientation immediately. Of course, some job functions may change as we streamline our processes and capitalize on the natural synergy between our respective divisions. We already have a Change Management team in place and we will be looking to place our new employees in the best position possible to serve Manitobans within the new mandate of the corporation.”
Struthers, who will be assigned a new role in the provincial cabinet, expressed optimism over the future of his former department.
“I know that MPIA will lead
into a new era of agricultural innovation and success. I am confident that this merger is truly in the best interest of Manitobans and our producers.” Manitoba
Hugh McFadyen, Leader of the Opposition, questioned the NDP's motives.
“This is just a cheap way of buying votes. This move only highlights the NDP's level of desperation,” said McFadyen.
“It worked for us in the last election,” countered Struthers. “When we merged Driver and Vehicle Licensing functions with MPI, the Leader of the Opposition barely made a peep. We got more civil servants off the books and Manitobans bought it, hook, line, and sinker. We expect that Manitobans will again understand the wisdom of this progressive move and see that we have only their best interests in mind.”