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Showing posts from April, 2020

We should focus on nutrition during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our life may depend on us being healthy if we are infected by the COVID-19 virus.  All the evidence suggests that keeping healthy is important to avoiding having a severe case of COVID-19 virus infection. To be healthy we need to pay extra attention to getting exercise, to getting enough sleep, and to our nutrition.
This post will focus on nutrition. What is nutrition and what are the best nutritious foods during a pandemic? About this, there could be a lot of argument, though most will agree that a balanced diet with significant amounts of fruits and vegetables is a good place to start. For most, this also will include sufficient meat, including liver, to supply critical nutrients like iron and vitamin B12. Including plant based proteins in nuts, beans and lentils is also a good idea.
I have given the question - how can a person make a simple change or changes to have a better diet at the time of COVID-19 pandemic – a lot of thought.  I am going to suggest that we often overlook th…

Enjoying pickerel (walleye) for breakfast

In summer, when we are at the lake, Naomi and I enjoy having fresh caught fried fish for breakfast.  Recently, we have been having pickerel at home.  We get our fish locally from Gimli Fish on Pembina.  They are careful in following COVID-19 protocols and allow only a few people in the store at a time. But waits are usually short, and they currently have frozen pickerel which we thaw overnight in the fridge and then enjoy first thing in the morning.  I coat the fish with FISH CRISP, a tasty coating seasoning, and then fry it.   And as a plus we are supporting local businesses including local fishermen at a time then the fishermen are struggling.  I hope others will consider fish for breakfast.  It is delicious and it is also a healthy food!

Helpful links for support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Here are some helpful links for people seeking support or information during the COVID-19 pandemic
CERB; If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
CESB; For post-secondary students and recent graduates who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or for Employment Insurance, but who are unable to find full-time employment or are unable to work due to COVID-19, the government proposes to introduce the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB). The CESB would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students, and $1,750 for students with dependents and those with permanent disabilities:…

Colleges and Universities can be the launching pad for tourism and building tourism in our economy

Tourism has always been an important part of Manitoba's economy.   Even Brian Pallister has recognized this.  I have chosen to discuss tourism because many might think Universities and Colleges and not important to this industry when they are.  For virtually every industry colleges and universities make a contribution.  This comment provides an example using tourism of why colleges and universities play such an important role.

Success in tourism needs attractions which people want to visit.  In this we need to be good stewards of our resources.  As an example, Lake Winnipegosis was at one point recognized as a really important lake for fishing and for tourists to come to fish.  I believe there were, at one point, about 38 fishing lodges around Lake Winnipegoss, and it was a prime location for people from the United States to come as tourists to fish.   But sadly the fisheries on Lake Winnipegosis had poor stewardship under a succession of NDP and Conservative governments in Manit…

Colleges and Universities are the launching pad for creativity

Creativity is critical in today's world.   Richard Florida has written about how important having creative people is to successful cities.  If we are to do well economically, socially and environmentally we need to nurture creativity in people.   Universities and Colleges have for centuries been an important place to simulate creative thinking in art, in science, in philosophy and in so many other areas.  Creativity is needed to generate new ideas and new thinking.  Creativity is needed to communicate new ideas and new ways of doing things.

At a time when creativity is so important and when colleges and universities are so important to help students learn to be creative thinkers, we need to be expanding the role and the importance of universities and colleges instead of shrinking them.   Brian Pallister and his cabinet are wrong-headed and poor at planning for the future when they cutback funding to the universities and colleges of our province.

Manitoba Liberals say  to Mr. Palli…

Universities and colleges are a launching pad for research and innovation

Over many decades, universities and colleges have made an extraordinary contribution to research and to innovation.

An important example is the work that has gone into developing approaches to addressing diseases like COVID-19.   The contributions made by people working in or people who trained in universities and colleges has been enormous.

The contribution of universities and colleges goes far beyond research and innovation in health.  The University of Manitoba has made big contributions to the design and testing of structures like bridges and roads. 

Many businesses and industries have been built on research and innovation carried out in universities and colleges or by people trained in universities and colleges.  This includes a wide variety of industries from the aerospace industries so important to Manitoba, to the mining industries, to agriculture, to information technology and communications.

Today, when businesses are having to make adjustments in many different ways in th…

Universities and Colleges are a launching pad for students

Universities and colleges play a really important part in launching students on careers.  We know how important this is from the evidence that students having a college or university education are more likely to find and keep jobs.  The difference a university or college education makes is substantial.  And in today's COVID-19 haunted world where more people are working from home, it is the college and university educated people who are being more successful in working from home.

Following the extremely difficult times we are going through at the moment, it will be very important for people to have opportunities to learn new knowledge and new skills.    There is a lot of interest in people taking on-line courses and a lot of need for people to learn new things so that they are better able to contribute in a society where we may be doing more on line.  It has been fascinating for me to talk to high school teachers who are exploring the world of on-line teaching and developing new …

Colleges and Universities are the launching pad for our society - they are needed more than ever now

At no time in the history of our province have colleges and universities been needed more than now.  Our economy has benefited enormously from the research, innovation and training which has come from our universities and colleges.  It is from universities and colleges that have come much of the research on which we now depend in our fight against the COVID-19 virus.   It is colleges and universities which have trained so many of the people we are now relying on to battle at the front lines of this fight.   It is colleges and universities that we rely on today to train and retrain people for the world after COVID-19.   It is universities and colleges that we need because they have trained people and are involved with helping to set safety standards which will allow us to move forward safely in reopening businesses.  We are finding that it is those who have been trained at universities and colleges who are disproportionately able to work from home at this time.   We need on-line educa…

An awful and uncaring Pallister government goes after the most vulnerable children in our province

Like a sleuth in the night, the Pallister government is cunningly using a bill, bill 34, called the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act 2020, to take away millions of dollars from children who are in the care of the government. 

The monies in question are called the "Children's Special Allowances" or the "federal special allowances for children".  In brief, under Jean Chretien and Paul Martin,  a Canada Child Benefit was established to help support children.  For children in the care of child and family services, where the parents are not directly looking after the children the money is paid to the agencies to help support the children.  There was a time when these monies were being used effectively by child welfare agencies to support children.   Some agencies used these funds in part to provide services to help the children they were looking after and in part into a trust fund that provided money to a child when the child aged out of care at…

Bird watching from home - a friendly Bald Eagle

This morning, as I was working on issues related to home care and the Covid-19 pandemic, Naomi called.  Just outside the window where she was working on a commissioned art piece, was the Bald Eagle below: 

Cries of hurt, anguish, distress and calls of mismanagement echo around the province in response to Pallister government's cuts to home care.

Since the Pallister government's cuts to home care came into effect, there have been many who have spoken out in alarm. 
As the Winnipeg Free Press reported "The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has temporarily suspended home care services considered to be non-essential - including bathing, laundry, cleaning and respite"  I am hearing these cutbacks are also occurring in regional health authorities outside of Winnipeg.  The cutbacks are not small.  For example "about half the residents at five of the company's [Homestead Manitoba] assisted living facilities are affected."  
The reaction I have seen and communication sent to me has been extraordinarily strong, and has been coming from reasonable and responsible Manitobans.  Cutting back on home care will result in more people getting sick and having to be in institutions including personal care homes and hospitals.   It will also result in more visitors to existing facilities as family members scramble to fi…

PC's Letter Telling Municipalities to Lay Off Workers During Pandemic is Beyond Irresponsible

On Friday April 17th, we learned that the Pallister government has written to municipalities to give them advice about cutbacks which the Pallister government believes they should consider implementing.  Our press release (below) responded to this letter.  WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister Government's decision to suggest municipalities lay people off is beyond irresponsible. After public health, the single greatest priority for governments must be saving the economy and doing everything they can to make sure that people keep their jobs. Not only is Manitoba the only province to provide no direct financial assistance to people or businesses, but they are choosing to make unemployment and pay cuts worse while urging others to do the same. The PCs plans to layoff or reduce work for public service will do terrible harm to Manitoba's economy. It means Manitoba customers will have less money to spend at Manitoba businesses. Even more critically, less money to pay their r…

There is a way forward without the unsettling and destabilizing cutbacks being made by the Pallister government

On Friday, April 17, Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals outlined an approach which will allow Manitoba and our municipalities to move forward in a more positive way without having the destabilizing Pallister cutbacks.  Our press release is below:  WINNIPEG - Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface, says the Federal Government can avoid austerity and stabilize the economy by having the Bank of Canada directly provide financing to all three levels of government. Lamont pointed to the example of the UK, where The Bank of England has started financing the UK government's operations to help cope with the downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of prominent economists, including Nouriel Roubini, Mariana Mazzacatto, and the Financial Times have all endorsed having central banks directly provide funding to governments. The Financial Times and others have pointed out that it means lowered borrowing costs. Lamont said there is no need for th…

Dougald Lamont speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during the one-day sitting of the Manitoba Legislature

On Wednesday, April 15 Dougald Lamont spoke during the one-day sitting of the Manitoba Legislature about the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on Manitobans and the need for action now.  Dougald's speech is below: "I want to thank everyone who's stepped up in this crisis. Merci à tout le monde dans notre système de santé, dans nos garderies, nos épiceries. Thank you to our health-care workers, child-care workers, grocery store workers and everyone who's providing services on the front lines, and thank you to every Manitoban who is part of this effort of fighting COVID-19 by staying home and staying safe. And our deepest condolences to all those who've lost loved ones. We do need to step up to provide people security, especially job security, in this crisis. There are times in our history where the private economy has gone up in flames and jobs and businesses go up in smoke. And at times like this, the worst thing we can do is add to the conflagration with more layoffs, f…

PCs Wrong to Withdraw Home Care Services Without Warning

Monday, April 13, 2020 we called out the government for it cutbacks to home care.  Our press release is below: WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister Government's decision to pull back on home care services last Thursday is a mistake made worse by not communicating the decision to families. In the Public Health and Shared Health briefing, April 13, officials acknowledged the Province has made significant changes to home care. As of last Thursday evening, April 9, services for bathing, cleaning and laundry were eliminated for many Manitobans who depend on home care. "It is completely unacceptable that this cutback to home care services was not a part of the government briefing anytime from April 9 - 12 and was not covered in the initial statement today on Monday April 13th," said Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights. "This is a major change affecting many seniors, who are some of the most at risk during this pandemic." It is …

Reflections on the one-day Manitoba Legislative sitting on April 15th

Yesterday, all parties convened in the Manitoba Legislature to pass legislation important to address the Covid-19 pandemic which is causing so much havoc to so many.  It was a time to reflect on the suffering and distress so many are experiencing and to recognize the heroic efforts of so many to help address the needs.  It was also a time to focus on bringing forth bills which could address these needs. And this, we did our best to do.

But, underneath the outward appearance of a relatively smooth one-day sitting of the Legislature was a level of disorganization which largely blocked the normal public participation in the legislative process.  It is worth reflecting on this so we can do better in the future.

During the planning stages, as House Leader for the Manitoba Liberal Party, I argued for a two-day session.  This was so that bills could be introduced at first reading and then debated at second reading before going, in the evening, to a committee stage where there was an opportun…

Greenhouses and Garden Centres should be considered essential businesses

April 15th.  The day after this was posted, Greenhouses and Garden Centres have now been declared an essential business.   Thank you everyone involved in advocating for this change - for we have succeeded. I am getting many emails and calls to enable garden centre and greenhouse businesses to open as they should be considered essential businesses.  They are very important as part of our food supply chain because many people rely on vegetables and other plants to produce their food during the summer.  It does not make sense to allow companies all over Manitoba to produce vegetables for people's consumption and not allow people to grow vegetables themselves.   Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta already consider garden centres and greenhouses as essential businesses which can operate during the pandemic.  It is time for Manitoba to do the same.   There will need, as with other businesses which operate during the pandemic the need for garden centres and greenhouses to operate safel…

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba (red line) started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota (blue line)has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph!

Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

Can we come out of the Covid-10 pandemic in better shape than we were before the pandemic began?

The first time I read Richard Henry Dana’s classic work “Two Years before the Mast”, I was struck by his description at the end of his two years at sea.   He wrote: “It is a common notion with landsmen that a ship is in her finest condition when she leaves port to enter upon her voyage and that she comes home, after a long absence “With over-weathered ribs and ragged sails” … But so far from that, unless a ship meets with some accident… she is in her finest order at the end of the voyage…. No merchant vessel looks better than an Indiaman or a Cape-Horn-er, after a long voyage; and many captains and mates will stake their reputation upon the appearance of their ship when she hauls into the dock.”   This happens because the ship is “scraped, varnished and painted” from stem to stern and top to bottom, the “anchors and ring-bolts were blackened with coal-tar and the steward kept at work, polishing the brass of the wheel, bell, capstan etc” and this was complimented by “neat work upon th…

The Withdrawal of Home Care Services by the PCs is very troublesome, and the communication around it was awful

Today, in the answers to questions asked by reporters, we learned that home care services for many were withdraw last Thursday.  This is tragic news for many who depend on these home care services.  It was even worse that the government did  not provide public notification of this before they acted to withdraw services.  Indeed the government failed to provide information about this at any of their briefings from April 9 to April 12.  Further it was not included in the primary briefing today, but only came out when reporters asked questions.  This has meant for many, that they found out only after the fact and where there was no family or friends who could fill in this has left people scrambling to save their loved ones who were deserted by our health care system.  It leaves a terrible feeling to have our health care system abandon people like this.  We will be very lucky if the people who have been abandoned by home care do not get worse and end up in hospital.  Oh, what has health …

Helping to keep seniors connected.

Thursday April 9, we called for help for seniors to stay connected - specifically we called for the government to act to accelerate the availability of unused computers for seniors, particularly those in long term care homes .  Our press release is below: 
WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Pallister Government to donate unused iPads, phones and computers to seniors in isolation so they can communicate with loved ones. The Long Term & Continuing Care Association of Manitoba (LTCAM) put out a call for donations today saying, "with unprecedented visitor restrictions in place to keep our seniors safe, LTCAM hopes you will donate devices such as IPads, or Tablets - anything that can be used to reach out to family and friends through real-time video chats." Manitoba Liberals say the Legislature has many iPads, devices and computers that have been used by MLAs that should be donated to the cause. "We hope the Pallister Government will free up these devices to sen…

The Chief who saved his village in the influenza epidemic of 1918.

During this covid-19 pandemic we can learn from what worked 100 years ago during the 1918-1919 pandemic.   

This is a story of a small village called Syatiminda in Africa in what was then Northern Rhodesia and is now Zambia. This village was located not far from the village of Kanchindu in the valley of the Zambesi River.   

The homes at the time were similar to the one shown in the photo below which was taken in Kasenga another village in the region.  The photo was taken a little more than a decade after the time of the 1918-19 pandemic in the 1930s.   

As occurred elsewhere in the world during the pandemic of 1918-1919, communities in Northern Rhodesia were devastated by the pandemic with many people being infected and with many lives lost.There was an exception in the village of Syatiminda.

Here the Chief, whose  name was Chief Syatiminda (also spelled in one reference Siatwinda), felt, perhaps prompted by the local government, that the virus was transmitted inside the homes where peop…