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Judy Klassen and I call for a national initiative to ensure Every Child in Canada has Access to Learning from Home

Judy Klassen, former MLA for Keewatinook and I have written to Members of Parliament and Senators to urge them to support a national program to be initiated by the government of Canada to ensure Every Child needs Access to Learning from Home:
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for every child to have access to learning online. Sadly there are still substantial numbers of children in Canada who do not. There is a unique opportunity today to ensure no child is disadvantaged and to ensure that every child in Canada can learn online to supplement their classroom learning, or if needed as with COVID-19, to replace classroom learning temporarily. Simply put, this means every child in Canada must have internet access and a computer to be able to go to school from home, to be able to connect with their teacher, and to be able to learn.
Inequalities in our society fester when there is not equity of access to basic needs like education. Today, such inequalities are apparent like n…
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How do we prepare personals care homes for a second wave of COVID-19?

Personal Care Homes have been at the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.  More than 80% of deaths in Canada have been residents of personal care homes.  It is expected that there will be a Second Wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to be ready.

On June 23rd, I hosted a Forum “How do we prepare personals care homes for a second wave of COVID-19?" We asked important questions including: - Do we need a rapid response team to respond when there is a COVID-19 infection in a personal care home?

- What steps are needed to ensure the best possible physical health of personal care home residents?

- What steps are needed to ensure the best possible mental and brain health of personal care home residents

- What steps are needed to ensure all personal are homes are implementing high standards of care and stewardship of residents?

- How do we balance access of family to residents with the safety of residents?

The full event can be watched on YouTube at this li…

We need to include more Black history in our Education system in Manitoba, and to improve the experience for Black children and youth.

My blog post below was originally published in a shortened version in the Sou'Wester on Wednesday June 17
“Black Lives Matter!” This chant echoed loudly when fifteen to twenty thousand people came out to a rally at The Manitoba Legislature on June 5th hosted and organized by​Justice4BlackLivesWinnipeg (1).Many residents of River Heights including myself attended.
As the conversation of Black Lives Matter continues to grow around the world and right here in ourcommunity, we must remember that as we fight for justice, we must also address the systemic discrimination and exclusion of Black Manitobans on all levels. The powerful chants at the rally reminded us of the urgency and necessity of​ action. One important area to take suchaction is our education system. On March 10, 2019, I hosted a public forum in River Heights onEducation in Manitoba. One of the panelists, Alexa Joy is the founder and president of Black Space Winnipeg and longtime political activist in our community.
Ms.Joy e…

Pallister Conservative government makes bizarre decision to close down the Legislature when there is still a lot of work to do.

Yesterday, the Pallister Conservative government effectively closed down the Legislative sitting without any indication as to when it will resume. 

It is a strange decision.  The Manitoba Legislature when it sits each year has a defined body of work that needs to be accomplished.   This includes the initial presentation of the budget, a budget debate and then a series of questions and answers on budget matters which are called Estimates.  This is an opportunity for MLAs to ask probing questions on details of the budget, and for the MLAs and the public to learn more about the changes that are being made and why they are being made.   In addition to this there are, each year, a series of bills brought forward by government and opposition parties.  This year the government has put forward 62 bills and the opposition parties and government backbenchers have together put forward 17 private members bills.  In addition to this work, during session there is a daily question period during whi…

Brian Pallister acknowledges, in his own way, that Liberal efforts to highlight personal care homes are making a difference

Wednesday May 27, in Question Period I asked the government whether they were providing adequate oversight on personal care homes in Manitoba - an item which is of particular importance given the recent report from Ontario showing a failure of provincial government oversight of personal care homes in that province.  To illustrate that Manitoba has not been without its own problems I tabled a report from two years ago, which Manitoba Liberals helped prepare, into care at Lions Prairie Manor in Portage la Prairie.  As you will see in the Premier's response he acknowledges there were problems there and that the government has acted in response to the report when he says: "New standards have been brought into play as a consequence of the report the member cites. New training has been developed to enhance the care that's offered there."   It is important that we, as Liberals, keep the government on its toes and help to keep people in personal care homes in Manitoba safer.…

Keeping the focus on personal care homes

'Yesterday, May 27th, I kept the focus on personal care homes with my Member's Statement and my questions in the Manitoba Legislature.  The issue continues to be very important.  Extensive problems in personal care homes in Ontario were highlighted in a report released May 26th by the Canadian Armed Forces based on their experience in five personal care homes in that province.  My Member's Statement is below: 
Member's Statement: Personal Care Homes - Quality of Care issues and need for Rapid Response Team
Yesterday, the Canadian Armed Forces report on Ontario Long term care homes was released.  Its contents are shocking and concerning.
It is apparent there was a major failure of oversight by the Ontario government.  Some of the inadequate conditions, operations and staffing of personal care homes had been occurring for many months, perhaps years.   We also hear that there were inadequate provincial inspections and oversight of personal care homes in Ontario.  It is a…

We need to bring the Manitoba Legislature back to sitting full time.

Monday May 25, we sent called for the Manitoba Legislature to sit full time instead of just once a week.  The once a week sittings have shown we can operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.  We now need to return to sitting Monday through Thursday with the possibility of doing estimates on Friday.  Our Press Release is below; 

Manitoba Liberals Call for All-Party Agreement to Bring Back Full-Time Legislature
WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals are calling for the Legislature to go back to sitting Monday to Thursday during June to make up time that’s been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.  Since being shut down in March, the Legislature has only been able to sit once a week, on Wednesdays.  Manitoba Liberal House Leader and MLA for River Heights Jon Gerrard said that shows that the Legislature can keep working with COVID-19 imposed physical distancing and sanitation requirements - but to be effective, it needs to go back to work full-time.  “We have seven weeks of work to make up, and unles…

Manitoba Liberals call for a rapid response team to be ready in case of any future outbreaks of COVID-19 in our personal care homes

Yesterday, May 22, Manitoba Liberals put out a press release calling for the province to get ready for the Second Wave of COVID-19 infections and put together a rapid response team to address any outbreaks in personal care homes.  One of the reasons that the outbreaks in personal homes in other provinces became so severe is that they did not have such a rapid response team.   When there is an outbreak in a personal care home, there can be many staff who have been exposed to the resident or staff member who develops a COVID-19 infection.  This means that many of the staff may have to isolate or quarantine for two weeks which leaves the staffing in the care home short.  To compensate for this short term staff are brought in who may or may not have specific experience or training in dealing with an outbreak in a personal care home.  As a result of the shortage of staff in Ontario and Quebec, they have had to bring in the Canadian military to help.  Manitoba needs to have a rapid response…

Standing up for farmers and standing against the Pallister cuts to the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation

This afternoon in the Manitoba Legislature, I stood up to talk on behalf of farmers in Manitoba and against the planned Pallister cuts to the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation.  My remarks are below:

Jon Gerrard: MLA-River Heights:I stand today on this Grievance on behalf of the farmers of Manitoba.The provincial government is looking to cut staff positions and salary costs at the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, also known as MASC.The government should not do this, and there are multiple reasons why the government should not do this.
First there is an urgent need for the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation at this moment. Last year was a very tough year for many farmers. I understand there is a back log of more than 500 outstanding post-harvest claims that need urgent attention. There is urgency in resolving these claims as many farmers are out seeding now.It can’t wait.
Add to this, there are additional claims from this year where farmers were not able to h…

Supporting fishers can help support us and our children with "brain" food

Yesterday, May 13, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature to support Manitoba fishers. My comments, from Hansard, are below.
Mr. Gerrard:During this COVID-19 pandemic, one of the important and essential areas to all of us in Manitoba and in Canada is having access to a good supply of food. In this context, our agricultural producers and our fishers are very important.       But it has to be noted that, in addition to our primary food producers, individuals and businesses which support those in agriculture or fishing industries are also important.       We also rely critically on our food processing and distribution businesses, including grocery stores. This whole network of food production and distribution is of critical importance to us today as, indeed, it is every day.       I want to personally thank all Manitoba producers and all those who contribute to ensuring our food supply chain is intact and working well and that we have safe high-quality food. I say thank you, thank you, thank yo…