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Showing posts from March, 2020

Manitoba government needs to better support local organizations and local professionals on the front-lines of the battle against Covid-19

Today, Manitoba Liberals put out a press release calling for the provincial government to better support local organizations in Manitoba in the effort to address the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our press release is below. 
More Half-Measures: PCs Ignoring Local Mental Health Providers in COVID-19 Crisis WINNIPEG - The Pallister Government is making a mistake by offering $4.5-million to an Ontario based HR company to provide mental health services to Manitobans instead of funding qualified mental health providers in Manitoba.  Today at a press conference, Premier Brian Pallister announced the Manitoba Government will spend $4.5-million to Morneau Shepell, an Ontario-based HR company, for a hotline that won’t be ready for weeks.   “That $4.5-million would be better spent to fund community mental health supports - like Aulneau Centre, KLINIC, MATC, St. Boniface Street Links, and other Manitoba service providers. They could be providing mental health services by phone in days, not weeks,” said Lamont…

Manitoba Liberals push for improved support for small businesses

Yesterday, March 26th, Manitoba Liberals put forward a plan for the provincial support of small businesses.   The Pallister government has not been acting.  Manitoba Liberals are pushing for action. 
PCs Must Shore Up Small Business Finances to Weather Pandemic WINNIPEG - With the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) survey showing that one in four Manitoba businesses could be insolvent within the month due to the Covid-19 shutdown, Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Pallister Government to act quickly to ensure that as many businesses as possible weather the pandemic The CFIB has called for immediate and significant assistance. The longer the pandemic shutdown lasts, the more businesses will be at risk. Lamont said the PCs need to treat the economic impact of the Pandemic as seriously as the health impacts, and act to limit the effects of widespread job losses as well as business failures. Lamont also said if the PCs can find $200-million to bail out the Investors Group S…

The provincial legislature should be focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic not on Matters of Privilege which are designed only to obstruct the normal business of the Legislature.

On Monday March 16, Matt Wiebe, NDP MLA for Concordia rasied a Matter of Privilege dealing with ride sharing and taxi services.  I responded below, that this did not fit the criteria for a Matter of Privilege and that we should be focusing on the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic.  My comments are below:  Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to put a few comments on the record on this matter of privilege.       This deals with the government handling of the ride-share and the taxi industries. This is clearly an important area. It's not the first time it was possible for the member to bring this up, as many of these issues date back some time.       The member has made a prima facie case to demonstrate that his privileges as an MLA have been interfered with, and I would comment on his privileges as an MLA in this context being interfered with versus the interference which is happening with many other MLAs being able to address what is a crisis at the moment–th…

NDP talk poverty to obstruct the legislature but forget about the importance of considering the vulnerability of those who are poor to the COVID-19 virus.

On Monday, March 16th, the NDP MLA for St. Johns Nahanni Fontaine rose, as part of the NDP effort to block the normal business of the Manitoba Legislature, to raise a Matter of Privilege.   This matter of privilege was, as she said and is recorded in Hansard,  "I hope that I have been able to outline, as much as possible, my privilege as a member of this Manitoba Legislature and how that privilege has been molested by the Minister of Infrastructure in not being able to answer–or, ask  those important questions, in respect of the 2019 Poverty Reduction Strategy's annual report, on December 5th, 2019". 
It is to be noted that as the government House Leader. Kelvin Goertzen said during the debate:   "I would also note that it relates to a committee in which the member herself, in her role as the Opposition House Leader, agreed for the committee to go only one hour, and  now she seems to be raising a matter of privilege against herself, Mr. Deputy Speaker."
I also spo…

Progressive Conservative Party in Manitoba says no to a debate on the Covid-19 situation

On Monday March 16, I asked for leave to have a debate a Matter of Urgent Public Importance (a MUPI) - the Covid-19 situation.  Because the NDP was blocking the normal procedure, I asked for leave to bring the MUPI forward first before the NDP brought in their obstructionist tactics.   But Kelvin Goertzen and the Progressive Conservative Party said no.  This is too bad.  They denied all parties the ability to participate in a discussion and debate on the COVID-19 pandemic when it is so much in the minds of Manitobans.  My comments in Hansard are below:
The Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):Mr. Speaker, I would ask if there's lead of–leave of the House to first deal with a–an all-important resolution which we have dealing with the operations of the House, and followed by the matter of urgent public importance, which is the discussion of COVID-19, before moving on to the rest of the business of the House.       Clearly, we have a major issue in terms of a pandemic, and at least this …

Thursday March 12, Manitoba Liberals continue to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic while the NDP continue to obstruct the normal business of the Legislature.

On Thursday March 12, Manitoba Liberals provided notice to the Speaker that we were calling for a debate on a Matter of Urgent Public Importance – the Covid-19 pandemic.Sadly, the NDP completely blocked the ability of the Manitoba Legislature to get to the normal procedure including the discussion we called for on the Covid-19 pandemic.The NDP did this by bringing forth a series of Matters of Privilege.Quite frankly the NDP were so focused on their own privileges that they lost track of the fact that from a public perspective all the focus was on the Covid-19 pandemic and that is what we should have been discussing.In spite of the obstruction of the NDP, Manitoba Liberals continued to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic. When the Legislature was called to order by the Speaker, the Conservative government asked if the other parties would agree to sit after the ordinary sitting time if necessary to complete the introduction of their budget. The NDP rejected this.The NDP then offered to the go…

Manitoba Liberals focus on Covid-19 pandemic while NDP introduce an endless series of Matters of Privilege to obstruct the business of the Manitoba Legislature

Wednesday March 11, on the day that the coronovirus Covid-19 pandemic was declared and the day the budget was to be delivered, the NDP decided to obstruct the business of the legislature and to introduce an endless series of Matters of Privilege.  Manitoba Liberals chose to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.   My comments in the Legislature, from Hansard, on the Matters of Privilege and on the Covid-19 pandemic are below: Mr. Gerrard:There, of course, were, several years ago, some changes in the rules, and one of the tasks that we have to make sure is that there's adequate time to debate the legislation. Of that there's no doubt. And we, the Liberal Party, are very determined to do whatever we can to make sure there's adequate time for debate.       On the other hand, we have 32 bills so far on the Order Paper. I have been in this Chamber when there was an NDP government and we occasionally had up to 50 or so bills on the Order Paper. So the number of bills that we have is not …

Speaking on Bill 8–The Pension Benefits Amendment Act

OnThursday March 5th, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on the Pension Benefits Amendment Act, a bill brought in by the Conservative government to enable people to use the money in their pensions much more quickly than they can now.   My comments, from Hansard, are below: 
Bill 8–The Pension Benefits Amendment Act Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments on this bill. I think it needs to be looked at very carefully when we get it to committee stage. We need the advice of a variety of people to look at this. I think there are important implications in terms of how people will manage their money, obviously.       If you completely unlock the pension funds at age 65 so that people can do whatever they want to do, I suggest it would be pretty important for the Minister of Finance (Mr. Fielding) to put together a booklet which could be on the Web and widely available for people who are considering this option. People need to know what the tax implications of vario…