Five sentences we’d love to hear from election candidates
April 8, 2016 – For immediate release
Manitoba’s lodge operators and outfitters bring thousands of tax-paying visitors into our province every year, contributing tens of millions of dollars into our provincial economy annually.Our members sell angling and hunting licenses for the government; they sell park passes for the government; they collect PST for the government; they pay fees to the government for Crown land permits, Resource Tourism Operator’s licenses, and annual fees for big game license allocations. They employ Manitobans in rural and northern areas, and they make most of their business-related expenditures with other Manitoba businesses. They also care deeply about our fish and wildlife resources and are vocal in helping to ensure the sustainability of those resources.
We don’t ask for much in return.
But here are five sentences our members would love to hear our election candidates, from any and all parties, utter during this current provincial election campaign:
– “We see Manitoba’s fish and wildlife populations as massively valuable assets that deserve our attention and increased resources for management and sustainability planning.”
The economic impact of licensed hunters and anglers in Manitoba was recently estimated at nearly $500 million annually, not including commercial net fishing and non-commercial activity by indigenous hunters and anglers. The direct impact on the provincial treasury from license sales, taxes and other fees is estimated at $70 million annually. Yet Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship’s fish and wildlife branch was budgeted only $6.7 million to conduct all of its operations across this vast province in 2015-16.
– “We believe in managing our fish and wildlife populations based on biological sustainability first and foremost.”
There is no shortage of issues in Manitoba with respect to land access, licensing, harvest management, anti-poaching enforcement, Crown obligations to indigenous rights-based hunters and anglers, seasons, limits, and other societal factors that affect the management of our fish and wildlife populations, but if there are not enough moose, walleye, ducks, geese and whitetail deer to go around, then it all becomes a moot point. Science must inform all our management decisions first and foremost, but with one caveat – there must be a reasonable expectation that the science will be performed, and be performed properly and in a timely manner.
– “We understand that tourism is a hugely beneficial economic driver in Manitoba and we are prepared to spend more money marketing our province as a tourist destination to increase our return on investment.”
The Manitoba Chambers of Commerce has called on our provincial government to significantly increase the amount of money it provides to Travel Manitoba to market our province to tourists. This is not money to incubate new businesses or build new attractions; this is purely money to market what we already have and to help fill existing beds. We strongly support this pitch and have been pleased to see both the PC and NDP commit to this already.
– “We want to level the playing field and curb unlicensed accommodations and guiding services, either by increasing enforcement efforts or by bringing illegal operators into the licensed, tax-remitting fold.”
Our members report that unlicensed outfitting is becoming increasingly common in Manitoba. Our members go through a rigorous application process to obtain licenses for guiding services and accommodations, and pay annually for those licenses and permits. They also collect and remit taxes as legitimate businesses. Yet unlicensed guides, primarily for angling and waterfowl hunting, are openly advertising and actively operating in Manitoba, while cottage owners and rural residents commonly rent out their unlicensed properties (even to Crown corporation work crews) without collecting or remitting tax. The government must either crack down on unlicensed activity or find a way to legitimize unlicensed operators to level the playing field. Otherwise there is no point in licensing anyone.
– “We value the contributions made to our province by lodge operators and outfitters, particularly in rural and northern Manitoba, and will work cooperatively with the MLOA and local indigenous governments towards ensuring their continued access to the land, and to fish and wildlife resources.”
We have been working with indigenous hunters and anglers, and with First Nations governments, to ensure that outfitters and their clients are viewed as welcome and valued visitors on the landscape, especially with respect to operating within the traditional territory of a First Nation. Our industry has a long and rich history in Manitoba and we want to ensure that continues for generations to come. We believe in shared land access for all, and in cooperative management of fish and wildlife resources between all stakeholder groups, including indigenous harvesters, licensed resident hunters and anglers, and visitors to Manitoba.
We would like to wish all the parties good luck in the upcoming provincial election, and ask that whichever party is elected give serious consideration to our recommendations.
For more information:
Executive Director – MLOA