Header Side Menu Content Footer
Government of Manitoba

Northern Development Strategy (NDS)

Northern Manitoba is rich in resources: forests, wildlife, hydroelectricity, fishing, mining, and growing tourism and trade industries. The region's potential is limitless. Representing over 80% of the province's total area, the North is key to Manitoba's future.

Manitoba's five northern MLAs introduced the Northern Development Strategy (NDS), as a long term plan to improve social, educational and economic opportunities in Northern Manitoba.

It was recognized that the North's vast resources create wealth for the entire province, but more was needed to ensure Northerners are fully involved and fully benefit from increased economic development. The region's potential will only be achieved with the guidance of northern Manitobans.

As a result, the NDS set out to address challenges hampering the full human and economic potential of the North including issues such as health, transportation, and education. The Strategy is designed to achieve:

  • Improved quality of life for northern Manitobans
  • Expanded educational and employment opportunities
  • Increased economic opportunities
  • Coordinated approaches to services and investment in northern Manitoba

The Manitoba Government committed to working with residents, different levels of governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to better address the priorities of Northern people and design and deliver provincial services. Thanks to the input of Northerners, Northern MLAs identified five priority areas for government to work toward:

  • More opportunities for education and training
  • Partnerships to improve housing
  • Improved health services and information
  • Improved roads and airports
  • Public and private investment and partnerships

The Strategy involves the dedication to work in partnership with northern residents in all stages of development, including greater decision making responsibilities. Under the NDS, the Province overhauled the 1974 Northern Affairs Act and created the stand alone Northern Affairs Act, giving ANA communities many of the same planning powers other Manitoba communities already had. In 2000, the province launched the East Side Planning Initiative, now known as the Wabanong Nakaygum Okimawin (WNO) to bring together local communities, First Nations, industry and environmental organizations to develop a broad area plan for the east side of Lake Winnipeg. Recently land use planning legislation was passed which grants the option to East Side First Nations to obtain legal protection of their traditional lands.

Additionally, in the last 4 years, Manitoba has set aside nearly 410,000 acres of land to meet its Treaty Land Entitlement agreement obligations.

Northern Development Strategy at work for Manitobans


Transportation infrastructure is vital to enhance the quality of life in northern communities, especially as it relates to delivering health and education services, providing access to necessary goods and supplies, and economic development.

The Provincial Government is committed to investing in roads for all Manitobans. Since the 2007 Highway Renewal Plan was launched, over $180 million has been invested on key routes in Northern Manitoba. The North has benefitted greatly from these increased investments including:

  • Highway 6 - over $75 million
  • Highway 10 north - over $50 million
  • Highway 39 - $3 million
  • Highway 373 - $27 million
  • Highway 374 - over $10 million
  • Highway 391 - $6.5 million
  • Highway 280 - $8.5 million

In 2011, road improvements are planned for Highway 373 near Norway House and Jenpeg, repaving over 30 kilometres of Highway 6 south of Ponton, widening the grade on Highway 10 north of Wanless, improving PR 280 near Gillam, and grading on PR 384 near Lobster Creek.

In addition there have been major improvements on a number of other Northern roads. The winter road system provides seasonal road access for 30,000 Manitobans in 23 communities, and allows for approximately 2,500 shipments of needed supplies a year. $34 million has been dedicated by the Province and federal government to winter roads over the last four years. Since 2001, 25% (over 600 km) of Manitoba’s winter road system has been moved onto land to improve safety and reduce environmental risks. The southern route in particular has had repeated failures.

Efforts to decrease the use of winter roads and air freight will help to offset the costs of living in remote communities, and improve accessibility to, and delivery of, health, education and social services. The Manitoba Government is moving forward with building a network of all-weather roads on the east side of Lake Winnipeg and has established the East Side Road Authority to manage the initiative. One road is proceeding north to Berens River and work is ongoing to build an east-west link from PR 373 to Island Lake and Northern Cree communities. Community Benefits Agreements are being reached with east side First Nations that will ensure local job training and economic opportunities. $315 million will be invested in jobs, training and economic development opportunities for local communities over the next 15 years. Manitoba has formally sought the support of the federal government for building the roads.

Preliminary studies are underway to examine the feasibility of a road from Gillam to Churchill and to Nunavut.

Under the Northern Development Strategy, the province and federal government have made significant investments in northern airports. New airport terminals have opened across the north including in Lac Brochet, Thicket Portage, Pikwitonei, God’s River and Oxford House, and runway extensions have been made at Red Sucker Lake, Brochet, Lac Brochet and York Landing. When possible, workers are locally hired.

Education and Training

Public Schools

Education is a fundamental building block to thriving communities and economic development. Strong public schools help prepare children for the future. Manitoba is moving ahead with improving graduation rates in Northern Manitoba so that students are able to succeed in reaching their goals. The provincial government has committed to:

  • Raising the compulsory education age to 18 from 16 years of age.
  • Creating a Manitoba Youth Corps with a northern component to provide additional mentoring opportunities for kids in school and youth organizations, apprenticeship and workplace preparation, and summer jobs.

The above new initiatives will complement much of the work already done in Northern Manitoba over the last decade. Provincial commitments to northern youth include:

  • Nearly doubled the capital funding to public schools this decade compared to the previous decade, which supported construction of a new school in Churchill and renovated schools across the North including Flin Flon, Thompson and The Pas, and through cost-shared partnerships with the federal government in Norway House and Moose Lake.
  • New resources and programs to better meet student needs. For example, the $7.5 million Aboriginal Academic Achievement grant is provided to school divisions to support the academic needs of Aboriginal students.
  • The Community School Partnership Initiative seeks to encourage families, organizations and schools to work together to improve students’ success and strengthen communities. Thompson, Flin Flon, South Indian Lake, Lynn Lake, The Pas, and Grand Rapids are all participating in this initiative.

Education and Training

Training goes hand in hand with economic development; it is vital for people to take advantage job opportunities. Under the Northern Development Strategy, the Manitoba Government has increased student financial support, enhanced funding for distance education programs, and established new educational facilities in the North.

  • The University College of the North has been specially designed to meet the education and training needs of Aboriginal and northern students. Manitoba is investing approximately $82 million towards construction of the 84,000-square-foot Thompson campus, $15 million in The Pas campus including renovations to the existing campus and new library and child-care facilities and $8 million for UCN’s 12 regional centres, in partnership with the federal government.
  • Manitoba and the federal government are investing over $3.5 million towards the construction of the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy in Flin Flon and the purchase of two state-of-the-art training simulators.
  • The $60 million Canada/Manitoba/Manitoba Hydro Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership agreement has helped over 2,600 people upgrade their skill set. Training includes certified journeypersons, active apprentices, pre-apprenticeships, and professional and business skills.
  • Grants for ACCESS programs have nearly doubled. ACCESS programs provide post-secondary educational opportunities to residents from under-represented groups.
  • New programs and funding to meet the needs of the north, for example the Aboriginal Midwifery Education Program and Aboriginal Medical Student Scholarship.
  • A Rural and Northern bursary is now available to reflect higher costs to relocate or commute to attend college or university.
  • The $4.5-million Northern Essential-Skills Training Initiative provides industry-driven training for Aboriginal and northern residents.
  • Support for the Northern Manitoba Sector Council to deliver training that matches the needs of employers in the North.
  • Manitoba and the federal government invested $1 million to support the Forestry and Mining Training and Workforce Retention Initiative. The one-year program assisted over 230 people individuals adversely impacted by mining and forestry curtailments.


Quality affordable housing positively impacts the health of people, their communities and helps to reduce poverty. Unfortunately many northern communities have a significant housing shortage and local residents bear the consequences of overcrowding of older homes and the northern climate. The Manitoba Government is seeking to rejuvenate and create new affordable housing options in Northern Manitoba through new funding and community and government partnerships. Revitalization efforts also create new job opportunities for local people.

  • Manitoba has committed $11 million for the renovation of approximately 540 Housing units in 30 northern communities. Local people are hired where possible.
  • In 2010 alone, renovations to over 130 units in Churchill, The Pas, and Thompson were committed as part of the Economic Action Plan.
  • A combined total of approximately $16 million has been dedicated to build twenty-four family housing units for each of the University College of the North campuses in Thompson and The Pas.
  • The new Housing and Community Development Northern Region Office has opened in Thompson to improve program delivery, add new housing services and increase local involvement in housing management. A key Northern Region initiative going forward is to introduce greater local control in housing matters in northern Manitoba. The Northern Region will engage with northern communities to determine their interest and capacity in providing greater local decision-making.
  • Through HOMEWorks! funding, the Thompson Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation, The Pas Community Renewal Corporation and the Flin Flon Revitalization Corporation offer individual grants for people to make exterior home repairs.
  • Hydro PowerSmart initiatives have been expanded to First Nation communities to retrofit homes and provide new training and employment opportunities. More than one hundred homes have been retrofitted with new training and work opportunities offered.


The Northern Development Strategy is designed to improve the delivery of health programs and services to northern residents including new or improved capital projects, healthy living and child-family programs, more health care professionals, and health services closer to home.

Along with these improvements there have been a number of major health capital projects in the North. This includes:

  • Dialysis treatment in Garden Hill and Norway House the only ones in Canada on reserve.
  • Dialysis expansion in The Pas and Flin Flon.
  • Major new Addictions Foundation of Manitoba facility in Thompson.
  • Upgrades to the Thompson General Hospital Emergency Department, St. Anthony’s Hospital in The Pas and the Flin Flon General Hospital.
  • A new facility for Adults with Acquired Brain Injury, and a new personal care home in Thompson.
  • New dialysis renal centre under construction at Berens River.
  • The northern family-medicine residence program was created to recruit and retain doctors in northern Manitoba. It is now fully subscribed with 25 medical residents who have committed to return at least two years of service in northern or remote locations. Doctors in northern Manitoba now also receive a 25 percent differential in pay to help with recruitment and retention.
  • Telehealth services now available throughout the North, including Berens River, Churchill, Flin Flon, Gillam, Leaf Rapids, Lynn Lake, Pukatawagan, Cross Lake, The Pas, ThompsonEasterville, Snow Lake, Grand Rapids, Lac Brochet, Brochet–Barren Lands, Tadoule Lake, South Indian Lake, Nelson House, Split Lake, York Landing, Shamattawa, Oxford House, God’s River, God’s Lake, Red Sucker Lake, St. Theresa Point, Wasagamack, Garden Hill, Norway House, and Poplar River.
  • The Northern Healthy Food Initiative assists communities to produce nutritious food locally, reduce food costs, and increase awareness of healthy eating. Success to date includes the creation of 650 gardens, 34 greenhouses and geodesic domes and delivery of 417 freezers, and small scale livestock operations in 9 communities.
  • Healthy Child Manitoba works with community partners and offers many programs and services in Northern Manitoba, such as the Prenatal Benefit Program, the Baby Friendly Initiative to improve maternal health, Healthy Baby Community Support Programs, Teen Clinics in the NorMan Region, STOP FASD Prevention Strategy, and support for Parent Child Coalitions.
  • The Northern Youth Empowerment Initiative supports new opportunities for northern youth to help reduce addictions and criminal activity and improve school attendance.
  • Manitoba’s youth suicide-prevention strategy Reclaiming Hope was introduced in 2008 and provides new, and improved access to, mental-health services as well as new funding for school and community group programs and supports. The Strategy includes creating a youth crisis stabilization unit in Thompson with on-site treatment, a mobile crisis unit, an expansion of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre to Shamattawa, Pauingassi, Duck Bay, Pine Creek, Camperville and Northlands; and expanding the Teen Talk program to Pukatawagan, Berens River and Cross Lake.

The Manitoba Government is moving ahead with:

  • A plan to ensure all Manitobans that want one will have access to a family doctor and primary care team by 2015.
  • Implementing more Telehealth services and an electronic health record system that will help residents in northern Manitoba access specialty services available in larger centres like Winnipeg or Thompson without having to leave their community.
  • Community consultations will begin shortly on how to bring more health services to residents of the Island Lake region so fewer residents have to leave the community to access health care. This is the largest population without local access to acute care services in Manitoba. The consultation process will review the feasibility of bringing services such as birthing, mental health and addiction services, rehabilitation and chronic disease management supports among other health services.

Economic Development

Northern Manitoba is rich with abundant resources. The provincial government is moving ahead with partnerships with First Nations, business and communities that ensure Northern residents benefit from economic development activities.

  • The 200MW Wuskwatim Generating Station will be in-service in 2011. This Hydro project is the first equity partnership with a First Nation, and local residents were trained and hired to work on Hydro projects. $127 million worth of goods and services have been purchased from Northern businesses to build Wuskwatim.
  • Plans are underway to build the 695 MW Keeyask and 1,485 MW Conawapa dams. Development opportunities for local Aboriginal communities include jobs, training, and business contracts.
  • New eco-tourism opportunities to attract tourists to Manitoba including supporting the First Nations led-bid to have the East Side of Lake Winnipeg named an UNESCO World Heritage Site, new protected areas and wilderness parks like the two just established at Neultin Lake and Colvin Lake in partnership with the Northlands Dene First Nation.

Manitoba, Canada and the Hudson Bay Railway Company committed $68 million in public and private-sector support for improvements to the Hudson Bay rail line and the Port of Churchill. The Province is working with its partners to develop the Arctic Gateway transportation corridor. The Port is strategically positioned as an efficient shipping hub to many Arctic communities and world markets by offering shorter shipping distances to many parts of Europe, Russia, and Asia.

Mining is an important sector of the Manitoba economy and a large employer in the North. PricewaterhouseCoopers recognizes the province as having the 2nd most competitive mining tax regime in Canada. Support to this industry over the last 10 years includes:

  • Investing $19.5 million in the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program funding to support 558 exploration projects. These projects have generated $182 million in company spending for exploration in Manitoba.
  • Introducing the Manitoba Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (MMETC) in 2002 and incrementally increasing the credit to reach 30% this year. The mining tax was lowered from 18% to 17% and lower tax rates extended to companies with smaller profits. Manitoba offers grants and loans directly specifically to northern businesses and entrepreneurs to develop regional industries and projects.
  • The Community Economic Development Fund has issued over $100 million in business loans to northern entrepreneurs to date. Recent legislative changes will expand its support to the Northern economy.
  • Launched the $20 million First Peoples Economic Growth Fund and committed to creating the $10 million Métis Economic Development Funds.

Share This