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Showing posts from May, 2020

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…

Supporting farmers and ensuring our food supply during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 13, during the Legislature sitting, I spoke about the importance of Manitoba's farmers and of their need for support during the COVID-19 pandemic.  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 t…

Calling, in the Legislature, for critical support for Manitoba small businesses

Yesterday, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature to address two critical issues which are facing small businesses in Manitoba.   This was as a result of the many emails I have been receiving from small businesses.   The text of the part of my speech addressing these issues - as recorded in Hansard is below. 
Hon Jon Gerrard: MLA River Heights:I want to talk first about the businesses which support food producers and the general help for small businesses, because in the last few days I have received many emails from people in small businesses in Manitoba, many of whom who support food producers.       And I will present–provide an example of the message from one of these letters. The letter says: small businesses are in desperate need of government support. The physical distancing requirements to protect the public from COVID-19 have had a devastating impact on small businesses. While small businesses were quick to close to help save lives, the government has been slow to provide basic sup…

Children in the care of the provincial government's child and family services need to be going to school

Children in the care of child and family services are too often forgottern. I have recently learned of children in the care of CFS which are not able to go to school because they do not have the technology or the support to go to school on-line. Every one of the more than 10,000 children in care who of school age should be able to attend school - on-line with the right support. We can not risk the consequences of them not being helped now. I asked the provincial government what they are doing about this in Question Period on May 13. Children in CFS Care - Access to Online Education Hon. Jon Gerrard  (River Heights):Madam Speaker, it is shocking that there are children in the care of the government's Child and Family Serviceswho are not going to school online during this pandemic.
Schools and CFS agencies are not tracking down all children who've moved. Not all organizations operating group homes are ensuring all children in their care are going to school. The same disaster of ki…

Pallister’s Recipe for Disaster: Liberal Statement on PCs Forced Hydro Layoffs

Brian Pallister is making a mistake by laying off up to 700 Manitoba Hydro staff.   There have already been major cutbacks at Manitoba Hydro.  We need Manitoba Hydro to keep our electricity secure and safe for every Manitoban.  This is the wrong time to be laying off so many people who are needed at this time.  Our Manitoba Liberal statement on this is below: 
Pallister’s Recipe for Disaster: Statement on PCs Forced Hydro Layoffs 
Statement by Manitoba Liberal Party Leader Dougald Lamont "The decision to layoff 700 highly qualified, difficult-to-replace Hydro workers is a disastrous and damaging decision with no upside. It is wrong for Manitoba Hydro to lay these workers off, and it is much worse that the Pallister government forced them to do it.
Just as the NDP did, the PCs are erasing the line between government and independent Crown corporations using their budgets as slush funds.
Manitoba Hydro is an essential business. It is profitable. The layoffs are targeting workers who are …

Provincial parks are for all Manitobans. Entry should be free in our 150th anniversary year.

Manitoba Liberals believe that our provincial parks should be open to all and with free entry at this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to celebrate our 150th anniversary.  Being outside in our parks, with good physical distancing we should have the opportunity to celebrate our 150 years and all the traditions we have built up over the years.  Our heritage - from Indigenous People to new immigrants and everyone who has helped make our province what it is today. - should be celebrated.  We can not do it with gatherings.  We can do it by physical distancing outdoors in our parks.  Let us enable as many Manitobans as possible to do it.  Our press release, sent out May 8 is below: 
Manitoba Liberals: Make Provincial Parks Free in 2020 WINNIPEG – Manitoba Liberals are calling on the Pallister Government to waive all admission fees for provincial parks for the remainder of 2020.
The Liberals say they have been inundated with complaints from Manitobans ever since the PCs moved p…

PCs hiding availability of volunteering benefits from EIA Recipients

More than I month ago, I was approached by Tara St. Laurent.  Because of her disability she is unable to work and is on EIA.  But she loves volunteering when she can with the Winnipeg Human Society.  When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and Manitoba went into lockdown, she was no longer able to volunteer as before.  She missed the $100 benefit which was critical for her to be able to purchase her food to eat.  She asked me if there was a possibility of seeing if she could still get the benefit.  I wrote a letter to Heather Stefanson the Minister of Families to make this request and she said yes.  However, actually getting the benefit took some time, and a direct intervention with Tara's worker to ensure she got the benefit, which she is now getting.  I had expected that Minister Stefanson would notify other EIA recipients who have been volunteering that they are eligible for the benefit.  Sadly, this did not happen, so the availability of this benefit has been largely unknown.   When I …

"Start giving me a person." The call for help to prevent suicides

As the Manitoba Advocate for Child and Youth, Daphne Penrose wrote in her report, the current support for child and youth with mental health and addictions issues in Manitoba is "massively underfunded".  She talks, in her report, released today, of "just how hard it is to get effective mental health services if you are a child or youth."  She laments the fact that "suicide has become the leading manner of death for youth in Manitoba", and she paints a picture of a system where the parts are poorly coordinated, are hard to navigate and lack critical components like the ability to rapidly access a residential treatment centre when it is needed.  Daphne Penrose and her team have listen to the stories of youth who committed suicide and to the stories of others who struggle with an inadequate system.   She mentions "One youth told us that being handed a piece of paper with a list of phone numbers to call on her own when discharged from a crisis resource w…