By not spending money to get prepared for the second wave of COVID-19, the Pallister government has cost our province and businesses a lot of money
Spending wisely often involves preparing well for potential problems coming up. This summer the Pallister government could have spend modestly on preparations for the Second Wave of COVID-10 and prevented the huge surge in cases which we have seen. Preventing the current crisis by preparing in advance would have dramatically reduced the amount of expenditures now needed. Preventing the current crisis by preparing well in advance would have meant businesses could have stayed open instead of going into lockdown. I spoke of this on Thursday November 5 during debate on a major budget bill. My comments are below.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, I want to put a few words on the record about the appalling fiscal management of this government.
There are times when, if you've got a good approach to preventing problems, then you can save huge amounts of money. And what we've seen with this government is that in July and August and September, they just wasted time. They didn't prepare. They didn't spend on what was needed to be ready for the contact tracing and the testing that is needed if you're going to keep control of a COVID pandemic.
We've seen around the world, leaders elsewhere talking about the critical importance of being right on top of contact tracing and of testing. You should have the reports from testing available within 24 hours of testing. You need to have the contact tracing done within 24 hours because, beyond that, if you haven't got it done, this fire spreads exponentially and you just lose control.
And what happened was this government did not invest the few dollars that they needed to invest in July and August and September to be ready. And if they had had the readiness there, the preparedness, so that when we started to go up in numbers, that we were able to have the testing done without these huge, long, terrible wait lines which dissuaded a lot of people from being tested and without the delays in getting the results in the testing.
The problem is that if you delay for seven days, as was very common in terms of getting results, (people are not only frustrated, they're not sure they're going to go in and get tested again), what happens is that that seven days is basically two cycles of the virus spreading exponentially.
And when the virus takes off–and we've seen it here in Manitoba because of the disastrous fiscal management of this government over the past few months–we've got a viral outbreak which is out of control. The hundreds of doctors are telling us we are in a very grave, perilous situation.
We are in extreme emergency, and all because this government did not do its job because it tried to save a few dollars instead of spending a few dollars early, and now it's costing people lots and lots and lots of money.
And it's not just costing the government money. It's costing businesses money. I've got every day emails coming in from people running restaurants: how are we going to manage now that we're going into this huge second wave–one of the biggest second waves in all of Canada, as big as some of the really worst places in the United States?
It's terrible what's happened under this government. It's just almost unbelievable how badly this government performed. And the result is, we've got businesses which are having trouble operating because there's got to be a strict lockdown because of the failure to look after this epidemic and to take care of it and get the testing and the contract tracing done really quickly early on.
So we had exponential growth. We still have exponential growth. And we have just an incredibly bad government, which has not spent well, which doesn't look after how to spend wisely and has made a mess of this second wave of the pandemic.
I think this government has a lot to learn and it's really sad because what we're seeing now is hundreds of doctors coming forward and saying we've got a disastrous situation, and instead of a situation which could have been controlled, which we would have been able to keep the economy open, which we would have been able to operate schools in a better way than now.
We may have to close schools just because of the disastrous way that this government managed things early on. And we have a situation where there's going to be need for lots and lots and lots of extra expenditures on ICU, on personnel and on various other things just because this government failed to spend early on in the smaller amounts that clearly could have made a big, big difference.
And I think that this government has got to be held to account. We need a public inquiry into how badly they mismanaged the second wave of the pandemic. We are going to see lots of inquests. There's just no doubt of it.
Looking at the death after death after death which is preventable happening at personal-care homes–people who are our elders, who have contributed to this province, who have done a great deal all their lives, who are highly respected people, even though they may be having some problems with dementia and other things as they get older.
We should have been looking after them. We should have had the plan there. We did not have the plan. And this government let us down, and experts from across the country are saying that this government messed up. This government wasn't ready for personal-care homes, didn't protect older people, and I'm sure that that's we're going to find when we have that public inquiry and when we have those inquests.
It's just appalling what this government has let happen, and it's terrible. And I think the government needs to understand it, and this government needs to have a much better approach to money management, and a much better approach to prevention of health problems before they get way out of control, as is happening at the moment.
Madam Speaker, that's my few words that I wanted to contribute on this bill, and I think it's important that the government knows that they're making a mess of a lot of things.