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All the Way Home: We call for major changes and improvements to help those experiencing homelessness in Manitoba

Today we released our Manitoba Liberal Caucus report designed to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness in Manitoba.   For me it has been a three months journey to understand the reasons for so much homelessness in Manitoba.  Nancy Chippendale, an activist concerned about the needs of those experiencing homelessness approached me early last fall to say that we needed to look into the situation in Manitoba.   Nancy said " This winter, with the COVID-19 pandemic there are going to be unique challenges.   Many of the places people experiencing homelessness may be closed or inaccessible due to COVID-19."   We started the planning in October and in November  and December we talked to  many, many  people who are trying  to help those who are homeless. As well we talked to individuals with lived experience of being homeless.  With Nancy's help, I have learned a lot, and the result is this report.  The full report - titled "All the way home:  Ending 40+ years o
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The importance of having a Seniors' Advocate in Manitoba and of improving the quality of care in long term care facilities.

  On January 29, 2021 we released our Manitoba Liberal Caucus report on the state of support  for Manitoba's seniors.  The report focused particularly on the need for a Manitoba Seniors' Advocate and on the need for improvements in long term care facilities.  The Media release is below.  The report itself can be found by:clicking on this link.    The title of the report is Standing Up  for Seniors:  Ending 40+ years of Neglect.  Why Manitoba needs a Seniors' Advocate and a new model for Long Term Care.  Manitoba Liberals Release Report Detailing 40+ Years of Neglect in Seniors Care:   Seniors need Advocate, System Needs Reform Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB - The Manitoba Liberal Caucus released a report detailing 40+ years of warnings and reports of neglect by Manitoba Governments of the conditions in personal care homes they say contributed to the appalling Covid-19 death toll in personal care homes across the province. Of all OECD countries, Canada’s death rate

I cried today when I heard the report on the Maples Care Home disaster

Today the Pallister  government released the report on the tragedy which occurred at the Maples personal care home in October  to December 2020.   There were far too many people infected with COVID-19 (73 staff and 157 residents) and far too many deaths (56).  It did not have to be this way.  The central finding of the report was: "The review found that while pandemic plans had  been prepared and were in place, the site was not prepared for the significant reduction in available staff once they had been  exposed to COVID-19  and were required to self-isolate.  In addition, the urgency of requests for additional on-site staffing supports were not  fully understood until the situation became critical.   While additional staff were brought in, many were not skilled in providing long-term care services and  lacked training in infection prevention and control and specialized housekeeping skills."    Five  months before, Manitoba Liberals had warned the Premier three times that pre

Ongoing concerns about COVID variants coming to Manitoba

 I is now some time since new COVID-19 variants have  been identified  in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. These new variants are more transmissible and therefore more dangerous, though whether they cause more severe disease is not yet certain.  As Manitoba Liberals we continue to be concerned about efforts which need to be taken to prevent such new variants from coming to our province.   We know that new variants have been detected  in Ontario, British  Columbia and Alberta.   In Ontario a new variant has been identified in an outbreak in Barrie.   Action to prevent such variants coming to Manitoba  should have already been taken 10 days ago.  As well, Manitobans deserve answers to a number of questions concerning these new variants and the Manitoba situation.  Our letter below was sent January 15,  and we still have not had a reply to most of these questions, although public health has indicated that as of January 22, there had been no new variants detected in Manitoba. 

Action is needed now - for Manitoba to prevent the new COVID-19 variants from coming to Manitoba

Action is needed  now  to prevent the new  variant forms of the COVID-19  virus (SARS-CoV2)  from coming to Manitoba. Major new variants of the virus have been found in the United Kingdom, in South Africa and in Brazil.  While these new variants may not cause more severe  disease (this is good), the new variants spread faster and are more infectious than the strain of COVID-19 virus we have been dealing with so far (this is bad).  The variants  will be harder to contain than the original strain of COVID-19 and therefore it is imperative that Manitoba act  now to limit the spread of these variants to Manitoba. We need, immediately, to review protocols for people coming from any jurisdiction where the virus has  been found (including Ontario, British Columbia  and Alberta).   Individuals coming from these areas should all self-isolate for 14 days (currently this is not required  for individuals from British Columbia and Alberta). Testing protocols for International travelers currently re

Lead Contamination and Children in the care of Child and Family Services

On Monday January 11, I had the opportunity in the Legislative  Committee dealing with the Annual Report of the  Manitoba Advocate  for Children and Youth, to ask questions about the possibility of children in the care of Child and Family Services having high lead levels due to exposure to lead.  My  questions and the responses of Ms Ainsley Krone Deputy Manitoba Advocate for Children and  Youth are below - from Hansard. Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):     I have a question which I'd like to bring up. In the report of the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth, there's a section here on where there are service gaps, and clearly, it's important to identify areas where there may be service gaps.       And I want to refer to a report that was done in Pennsylvania which showed that children who were in foster care, when they were tested before they entered care, had rather high levels of lead in their blood such that nearly 90 per cent of these children had levels of lea

COVID-19 and Children in the care of Child and Family Services

Monday Jan 11, I had an opportunity during a Legislative Committee on the Annual Report of the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth to ask about the impact of the COVID pandemic on children in the care of Child and  Family Services.  My questions to Ms Ainsley Krone the Deputy Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth and her answers are below - from Hansard.  Mr. Gerrard:   I want to come to the situation of the COVID pandemic. Are there concerns about the care of children in the COVID pandemic? Are you seeing an increased number of reports of problems–you've been following suicide, for example–and other concerns. Where are the gaps now because of the COVID pandemic? Ms. Krone:   Thanks for that question, Dr. Gerrard.       I would say that, you know, it's still, as you can appreciate, pretty early on in terms of the broader analysis of the impact of the pandemic and–but when we look at what's happening for young people in our province, the concerns that are being r

Homelessness in Winnipeg: we can do much better to help those experiencing homelessness

 Today we released our Manitoba Liberal Caucus report on homelessness in Winnipeg.  We recommend four major steps to be taken: 1) There is a need to provide additional daytime  and 24/7 warming shelters.  We call on the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba to open several community centres so that those who are homeless will have a place to be warm during the day, to get coffee and a bun and to use the washroom.  2) There is a need to shorten the wait time for people to get Employment and Income Assistance (EIA).  EIA is the on-ramp for someone who is homeless to be able to have the financial support to get an apartment.  Currently it takes three weeks just to get an intake appointment to get EIA. And for many who are homeless who miss getting the intake call, there is another three week wait.  We call for the Province to dramatically shorten this wait, so that 90% of people can get EIA in 24 hours as a major step forward in helping people get housed.  3)There is a need for ma

Wishing all a Safe and Happy Christmas and New Year

A safe and Happy Christmas to all, at this tumultuous time of the COVID-19 pandemic.   For some who have lost loved ones, this is a particular difficult time.   We need to remember these tragedies and remember the contributions that those we have lost have made.  We need to reach out to those who are alone or who are suffering.  And even as we have hope for the future, that hope is building on the contributions of many, including the contributions by those we have lost.  Our hope for the future can start  with the new vaccines which are rolling out.  Our hope  from  the future will build on the friends and family we have  and the friends we will get to know this coming year.   As your MLA  in River Heights, my  team is there to help you.   If we can assist  you, send me an email at jon.gerrard@leg.gov.mb.ca.    

Premier Pallister is wrong when he says no one could have predicted the speed and severity of the second wave

Premier Brian Pallister is just wrong in saying yesterday that "Nobody could have predicted the degree to which COVID came fast."  He was referring to the speed and severity of the COVID-19 virus spreading this fall in Manitoba.   Contrary to what the Premier says, many people were predicting the Second Wave of the pandemic  would  be worse than the first.  Historically this has often happened with pandemics in the past.  In Manitoba in 2009 the H1N1 pandemic was worse in the second wave than during the first wave.  The speed of the pandemic was not a surprise.  COVID-19 infections are well known to rise exponentially when adequate containment measures are not in place.   In jurisdictions like Italy and New York as well as elsewhere we had examples of sudden explosions of cases when the spread of the virus was increasing exponentially.  There was already evidence to suggest that the virus would be worse in winter months, and that spread would be faster as people moved indoors