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A tribute to Vince Fontaine

This afternoon, Naomi and I joined many others at a tribute to Vince Fontaine held at the Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks.  Vince was an incredible person.  He was able to bring people together in his bands and to play and sing with others in a way that was memorable, indeed unforgettable.  He reached across divides in our society.  As part of this effort he reached out to Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo's front man and asked him to sing a tune on an Indian City Album.   As Melissa Martin wrote "To Vince, it captured the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action no.83: artistic collaboration across cultures."  Melissa quotes Vince Fontaine "I wanted to stretch out on this album and invite a non-Indigenous person into the circle, so to speak.  For me, that's what reconciliation is: broadening the circle and showing people that togetherness again."  This afternoon, there was much of that togetherness.  A few photos from the event are
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COVID-19 and Omicron in Manitoba

 It has been an unusual week.  On Wednesday new headlines highlighted the fact that modelling by the Canadian military suggests "as many as 41 per cent of Winnipeggers might have active COBID-19."   This was and is an extraordinary high proportion.  Not only have case numbers been very high this week, but the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has gone up reaching 517 individuals in hospital in Manitoba with COVID-19 infections, and 45 individuals in ICUs in Manitoba with COVID-19.   Of the 517 individuals hospitalized with COVID, 36 are no longer infectious but are still in hospital.  Of the 45 individuals in ICUs, 2 are no longer infectious.  These numbers are very high and very concerning.  The Premier should have provided a clear plan as to what the province will do if the numbers continue to rise. She did not. Manitobans, including doctors and nurses, are being kept in the dark as to any plans. ICUs n other provinces are full at the moment so transfers to other

Much is needed to improve health care in Manitoba in 2022

  December 29, an article I wrote to talk about some of the health care improvements needed in 2022 was published in the Sou'Wester.  For ease of reading, I have put the text below. Health-care improvements needed in 2022 In River Heights and in Manitoba we are caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is a critical time, with the Omicron variant coming at a point when Manitoba's health-care system is greatly stressed just dealing with the fourth wave.  We cannot wait for a report from a task force, which was only appointed a couple of weeks ago, when we need action right now. Nurses are burned out beyond belief, with short staffing levels and high acuity case loads.  This needs to be better acknowledged.  There needs to be a major effort to provide better working conditions for nurses, to achieve the staffing levels required for high quality care, and to ensure routine medical and surgical care can happen even during the pandemic.  In the last two weeks Manitoba Liberals have ca

Visiting in Brandon

 December 15 and 16, Dougald Lamont, Cindy Lamoureux, Richard Davies and I were in Brandon with meetings there with Margot Cathcart at the Rural Manitoba Economic Development Corporation, Doug Paterson with Paterson Law, Gail Cullen and others at the Brandon Friendship Centre, the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and with many Liberals from various parts of south-west Manitoba.  The photo below is from our visit to the Brandon Friendship Centre.

Why has Peter Nygard not been charged in Manitoba?

 With Peter Nygard being charged in Ontario and in the United States, many are wondering why he has never been charged in Manitoba, considering that there have been accusations of sexual assault going back to 1977 (and with some recent evidence showing that this may even date back to 1968 in Manitoba). My question on Friday November 26th and the Minister's response are below (from Hansard). Peter Nygård Assault Allegations Inquiry into Filing Charges in Manitoba Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, with allegations of sexual assault against Peter Nygård dating back to 1977–44 years ago–why was there not a proper in­vesti­gation and charges laid against Peter Nygård many years ago in Manitoba?       We have women from Manitoba who have come forward. We have excellent investigators in our city and RCMP forces.       I ask the Minister of Justice: When was the first in­vesti­gation into Peter Nygård started in Manitoba, and is there a possi­bility that, at some

Why has Manitoba been so slow to approve the use of new and effective monoclonal antibodies.

 On Thursday November 25th, I asked the Minister of Health why her government has been so slow to approve the use of two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs)which have been shown to the very effective in reducing hospital and ICU needs and reducing deaths from COVID-19.   These monoclonal antibodies have been approved for use and have been used for the last three months in Ontario, and have been similarly approved for use in British Columbia and Alberta.  The use of these monoclonal antibodies have the potential to reduce the need for ICU beds from COVID and to reduce deaths.  Their use could potentially have decreased the need for ICU beds sufficiently that we would not have needed to transport patients hundreds of kilometers away from their homes in order to free up hospital space. My question and the Minister's response is below (from Hansard).  MAbs for Early COVID Treatment Approval for Use in Manitoba Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, two monoclonal antibodies,

A question on the government's inaction with respect to the strike at the University of Manitoba

 On Wednesday November 24th, with the strike causing chaos at the University of Manitoba, I asked why the government was not doing more to ensure professors can return to work at the University of Manitoba. My  question and the response from the Minister of Education are below.  Uni­ver­sity of Manitoba Labour Dispute Impact on Students and Staffing Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights ): Madam Speaker, for 22 days, a strike has been causing chaos at the Uni­ver­sity of Manitoba. Major researchers and teachers are so upset with the chaos, uncertainty and lack of support from this gov­ern­ment that some are con­sid­ering going elsewhere.       Recruitment has been extremely difficult because of the uncertainty and the lack of support for the uni­ver­sity and its star teachers and researchers by this gov­ern­ment. Students are caught in the middle of the chaos created by this gov­ern­ment. The Premier has had 22 days in office as Premier to provide the leadership and to end the chaos.

I introduce legislation to improve accountability in health care

 On Thursday November 25th, I introduced Bill 201 which is designed to achieve more accountability in health care.  Following the introduction of Bill 210, I spoke in a Member's Statement of the impact of the bill were it to be passed into law.  Bill 201–The Regional Health Authorities Amendment Act Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights ):  I move, seconded by the MLA for Tyndall Park, that Bill 201,  The Regional Health Author­ities Amend­ment Act; la–Loi modifiant la Loi sur les offices régionaux de la santé, be now read a first time and passed. Motion presented. Mr. Gerrard:   Madam Speaker, this bill will provide for improved account­ability in health care. It will provide that the health author­ities–that includes the regional health author­ities, Shared Health and CancerCare Manitoba–that their reports would come to the Legis­lative Assembly and that they would be then discussed in com­mit­tee, just as we do with Crown cor­por­ations currently.   Account­ability in Heal

National Addictions Awareness Week - and the purple carnations on the step of the Legislature

On November 24th, there was a Ministerial statement on National Addictions Awareness Week.  I spoke in response.  My comments are below.  It is to be noted that there was a rally in front of the Legislature on November 24th, just before our sitting started.   Members of Overdose Awareness Manitoba placed 199 purple carnations (photo above) on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.   Each flower represented a person who had died from an overdose in Manitoba in the first six months of 2021. It is a shockingly high number.  Mr. Gerrard:   Madam Speaker, this is National Addictions Awareness Week, Manitoba substance abuse and awareness week. As the demonstration in front of the Legislature at noon today by Overdose Awareness Manitoba shows, we are ever more aware of the inadequacies of the present government's approach to addictions: 199  Manitobans died from overdoses in the first half of 2021–199 Manitobans.       Before the election in 2016, five and a half years ago, members of

The Throne Speech

 On November 23rd, The Throne Speech was read by Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon.   It was, for Premier Heather Stefanson, her first Throne Speech and was to set the tone for her government's action in the coming year.  On Thursday November 25th, I had a chance to reply to the Speech from the Throne.  My comments, from Hansard, are below: Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Mr. Deputy Speaker, first I would like to con­gratu­late the Premier (Mrs. Stefanson) on her election. It is an im­por­tant step forward for Manitoba to have a woman as Premier.       Next, I thank my own con­stit­uents in River Heights. They've provided much support for me but, at the same time, I have done my best to serve them and to help those who have issues–whether it be personal concerns, a family concern, a busi­ness con­cern or a concern related to the policies of the current gov­ern­ment. There have been a lot of the latter in the last two years, as we've been going through the COVID‑19 p