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Invitation to our virtual Forum on Bill 64 on Sunday April 18 at 2 pm

  You are invited to a Forum on Bill 64 – the   bill which   will eliminate elected school boards in Manitoba on Sunday April 18 th  at 2 p m in the afternoon.      Our panelists are: John Wiens - Dean emeritus at the faculty of education, University of Manitoba. A lifelong educator, he has served as a teacher, counsellor, work education co-ordinator, principal, school superintendent and university professor. Wendy Bloomfield,   Chair of   the Board   of the Seine   River School Division, and Chair of the Child Nutrition Council of Manitoba.   Wendy was administrator of a non-profit child care program for 16 years.    She has served as a school trustee since 1983 and   as Chair of the Board of the Seine River School Division since 1990. Ben Carr Principal of the Maples Met School - one of only two of its kind in Canada. The Maples Met School was named the top school in Canada for innovation in teaching and learning last year by the Education Canada Network.  Formerly Ben was
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Say No to Bill 64

After carefully  considering  the ramifications of Bill 64, we have come to the conclusion that making the various changes in this bill  - including eliminating elected school boards would be a  major mistake.  We have launched a campaign to raise awareness and to do whatever we can to help Manitobans to realize the problems it will create and the need to oppose bill  64.    If you would like a sign, you can order one by clicking on this link.

Prince Philip

 On Friday April 9th, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature in response to the Premier's statement on the passing of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.  Mr. Gerrard:   Madam Speaker, in 2010, when the Queen and Prince Philip were visiting Manitoba, there was a reception at Government House. As Leader of the Liberal Party at the time, Naomi and I were invited guests. At the reception, the Queen went around one side of the room, and Prince Philip, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, went around our side of the room, and we were lucky enough to have a chance to meet him.       Prince Philip was an environmentalist and one of those involved in the founding of the World Wildlife Fund. In 1961, he became president of the British National Appeal, the first national organization in the World Wildlife Fund family. The World Wildlife Fund has since become one of the most important environment organizations on our planet. I have a personal connection to it because my daughter Pauline

Comments on the provincial budget

 On Thursday April 8 I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on the provincial budget and introduced our Liberal subamendment.  My comments (from Hansard) are below.  Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to put a few words on the record about the budget, which was delivered yesterday.       One of the first things that most people in Manitoba are concerned with is the imminent presence of a third wave of this COVID pandemic. We have seen–and are seeing–what's happened in Ontario and in BC; we would have expected that the government would have presented a clear plan in the budget for dealing with the third wave.  That clear plan could have alleviated people's fears and anxieties about what may be coming.       Instead, we have vaccination snafu after snafu. I raised concerns from just two of many individuals who've come forward earlier today in question period:  the failure to recognize and help somebody appropriately with Alzheimer's, the fai

Problems with the vaccine rollout in Manitoba continue

 On Thursday April 8, I asked in Question Period about the delays in vaccinations and the problems which are occurring with the process of delivering vaccinations.  As Tom Broadbeck  would point out in the Winnipeg Free Press six days later on April 14, with an inventory of 118,318 doses, "There are at least 100,000 Manitobans who should have been immunized  by now who aren't.  There  is no excuse for this.  Manitoba's vaccine rollout has gone from utter incompetence to gross negligence." My questions  and the responses from the Minister of Health and the Premier are below:  COVID‑19 Vaccine Sites Accommodations for Seniors Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, Liberals were contacted today by a Manitoban who tried to book a vaccine appointment for her mother, who has Alzheimer's.       When she called to book the appointment, she was told she couldn't accompany her mother, that a health-care aide would do it if–if–one was available, but th

The need to screen children for lead exposure in Manitoba

 On Thursday  April 8 I commented in Question Period on the action President Joe Biden is taking in the United States to address lead exposure of children and the need for screening of children in Manitoba as is done in many jurisdictions in the United States.   My comments (from Hansard) are below:  Lead Exposure Screening Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, very recently, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, announced funding of $45 million. This would go toward the funding of replacing all the lead water lines in the United States.       The United States has been ahead of the curve, recognizing that lead is a very serious neurotoxin and is especially harmful to young children, causing developmental delays, learning disability and be­havioural problems. And particularly important to our discussion of education, it results in poor performance of students in schools.       In Manitoba, we are behind on lead screening. Lead screening of children in the

Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day

Thursday April 8, in  response to a Ministerial statement I spoke of the importance of Yom Hashoah and remembering the Holocaust.  My comments (from Hansard) are below:  Mr. Gerrard:   Today on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, we spend time to remember the Holocaust and to build the awareness needed for all Manitobans to understand what happened.       Fifteen years ago–I remember as if it was yesterday–Naomi   and I visited Yad Vashem–The  World Holocaust Remembrance Center–on the western slope of Mount Hertzl, the Mount of Remembrance in the western part of Jerusalem in Israel. It was raining when we entered and raining when we left. The drops of rain were like tears falling all around us, tears in sorrow for those, including many children, who died in the Holocaust.       It was a deeply moving experience to visit Yad Vashem, to walk through the hall of names and to learn of so many stories: awful, tragic stories, but also stories of incredible fortitude and endurance from s

Replacing school boards with Community School Councils will likely mean the students who need the most help will get the least help

 On Wednesday  April 7, I raised, in Question  Period, my concerns with the  government's  plan to  eliminate school boards and put in place Community School Councils (essentially Parent Councils under a slightly different  name).   A considerable problem  with the  Pallister Conservative government's approach is that the schools where the most help  is needed will likely have the least help.  My question and the Premier's response are below.  While the Premier may say he wants to help children who are less well off, his plan is likely to achieve the opposite.   Schools in Low-Income Areas -  Parental Engagement Concerns Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, the government wants to eliminate school boards. The government wants to use school boards as the scapegoat for their own failures in education. To improve school performance, the government needs to provide most help to students who are struggling the most to improve.       A major problem with the g

Instead of abolishing school boards the government needs to address the root causes of children having difficulty in school including lead exposure

On  Tuesday April 6, I  spoke in the Manitoba Legislature in a Members Statement  on  the  need for the provincial government  to act  to address the  root  causes  of  student's poor school  performance.  I specifically  mentioned lead exposure as  it is a  preventable cause of learning disabilities, behavioural  issues and poor school performance.   Instead  of acting to screen children and prevent  problems with  lead  exposure, the government is abolishing  school boards.  The government  needs  to act to address learning  disabilities and behavioural problems in children.  It is an example of a measure which could significantly help the effort to improve the educational outcomes  of Manitoba children.  School Performance of Manitoba Children Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, the government has raised concerns that our students' performance on international tests could be better. The government has settled on elected school boards as the scapegoat and i

Bill 64 Town Hall raises many questions and concerns about the Pallister government's approach to education reform

On March  31, I  held a Town  Hall meeting over zoom to get input from people about Bill 64 - the  Pallister government's bill which will abolish school boards and make many other changes to Manitoba's Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system.    There was much discussion about the positive contributions of school boards and their ability to  provide local input and to achieve innovative local improvements to education.  There was also  discussion of the  need to better help students who are struggling and the fact that a number of  school boards are finding effective solutions.  Overall there was much opposition to Bill  64  and its abolishing school boards. You  can  see  a video of the town hall at this link