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Showing posts from May, 2018

What is the Palliser government's timeline for removing phosphorous from Winnipeg's sewage?

Phosphorous entering our waterways and getting into Lake Winnipeg is a primary cause of the large algal blooms that plaque the lake.  Wednesday May 30, I asked the Minister for Sustainable Development what her timelines are for removing phosphorous from the City of Winnipeg's sewage - through the improvements at the North End Treatment Plant and the elimination of the combined sewers.  My questions and the Minister's responses are below (from Hansard).
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): My question to the minister, it's one that I've asked before, so I'm hoping that I will get an answer.       As the minister knows, the biggest point source of phosphorus is the city of Winnipeg, and action to decrease phosphorus coming from the sewage in the city of Winnipeg is dependent on doing two things. The first is completing the North End treatment plant to the point where it removes phosphorus, and the second is addressing the combined sewer system. And my question is this: …

Why is the Pallister government so enamoured about bringing peole from St. Elsewhere - including agency nurses.

Wednesday May 30, I asked the Minister of Health and the Premier why they put so much effort into bringing people from outside their local community or from outside the province to work in Manitoba when we have people in our own province who could do the job well.  My questions and the Minister and Premier's responses are below (from Hansard). Health-Care Services  - Use of Agency NursesHon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, when the NDP government wanted to change health care, they hired someone from Nova Scotia. When the Pallister government wanted to change mental health in Manitoba, they hired Dr. Rush from Toronto.       One of the most consistent concerns raised with me at community after community in Manitoba is the Pallister government's practice of hiring higher cost   agency nurses–sometimes doctors, too–from elsewhere instead of supporting local nurses and building local capacity.       Why is the Minister of Health so enamoured about bringing in people fr…

Winnipeg's Pride Celebration

Wednesday May 30, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature about Winnipeg's upcoming Pride celebration.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, Winnipeg's Pride celebration, which officially kicked off in Winnipeg last Friday with a flag-raising ceremony at the University of Winnipeg, is one of many that will take place across the province this summer, including in Portage, Brandon, Flin Flon and Steinbach.       I'd like to recognize this year's Pride Parade grand marshal, Brielle Beardy-Linklater. She's a 24‑year‑old two-spirited transgender queer woman from the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. She's a  fighter at heart who follows her traditional knowledge and practices.       In a recent media interview she has said, and I quote: "I know there's a crisis on First Nations communities with two-spirited LGBTQ kids, in part because they don't know their identity, and what I'm trying to do is to help bridge that gap."       Pride week is a time that we must …

The need for attention to Lyme Disease - will there be a Lyme Disease clinic?

Tuesday May 29, I spoke on a resolution on Lyme Disease and the need to have more attention paid to Lyme Disease.  My comments (from Hansard) are below.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I want to thank the MLA for Emerson for bringing this resolution forward. Lyme disease is an important and serious condition and it needs to be taken seriously.       It's appropriate that the MLA from Emerson is bringing it forward because the southern part of the Red River Valley in Manitoba has been the area where a high proportion of the cases have–coming from, and I have, like the MLA for Emerson, talked to Elizabeth Wood and others who have contracted Lyme disease and have a history with it, and paid quite a bit of attention to it.       Sadly, it hasn't always been taken as seriously as it should have been, but I'm glad that it is going to be now and I look forward to the Lyme disease clinic developing.       The bacteria is interesting because it is a spirochete and it is a spir…

There is an urgent need to act to fully implement the Accessibility for Manitobans Act

Tuesday, May 30, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and the need to act now to do more to make Manitoba a Barrier Free province.   My comments (from Hansard) are below. Implementation of Accessibility ActHon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, Barrier-Free Manitoba reported today on the 2013 Accessibility for Manitobans Act.       At third reading, in support of this bill I said, it will be up to all of us, and to those in the disability community in particular, to keep a close eye on the government in terms of actually implementing and making sure that those standards are actually set.       Barrier-Free Manitoba reports today that the promise of The Accessibility for Manitobans Act is being broken due to major shortfalls in the act's implementation.       Implementation is also falling well short of clear commitments made by the Progressive Conservative Party leading up to the last provincial election. Government continues to mis…

Why has the Pallister government promised so much on education and done so little?

Tuesday May 29th, I asked the Premier why his government was promising so much when it comes to education but has done so little - and why effective and innovative approaches are not been taken province-wide more quickly. 
New Approaches to Education
Mr. Gerrard: And yet the Premier has not even committed yet to implement the education standard for–under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act. Madam Speaker, as we learned at a forum I held recently on primary and secondary education, we need improved support for teachers; we need to be quicker at taking effective innovations province-wide, like the Roots of Empathy, Kids at Play and effective alternative learning approaches, as have been used in the Seine River School Division–approaches using music and art to promote learning and support for Manitoba's strengths in French-language education. Why is this government, which has promised so much, done so little?
Mr. Pallister: Well, I'm not accepting at all the premise, the preamble, t…

Why is the Pallister government not helping learners who are struggling - and have not yet even committed to an Accessibility Standard?

Tuesday, May 29, I asked the Premier in Question Period why his government has not put forward a plan to help learners who are struggling, and has not even committed to an education standard for under the Accessability for Manitobans Act.  My question and the Premier's response is below.
Request for Education Accessibility Plan
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, a good way to improve overall student learning, if the Premier wants, is helping those who are struggling, including indigenous learners and including students with learning disabilities: speech, hearing and vision issues in children. Yet the government has not presented a credible plan to help those who are struggling and having difficulty and has not even committed to develop an accessible education standard under The Accessibility for Manitobans Act.
Why has the government not presented a plan to address and help learners who are struggling?
Mr. Pallister:I can share with the member that in my few years of teaching, that some of…

1000 teachers protested at the Legislature - How can the Premier improve education when he is at war with the teachers?

Tuesday May 29, in Question Period, I asked the Premier how he is going to improve the education system when he attacks the very teachers who are so important to delivering the education.   My questions and the Premier's response is below: Education System Improvements - Government-Teacher RelationsHon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, last Friday, more than 1,000 teachers came to the Manitoba Legislature to protest against the awful behaviour of the Pallister government.       The Pallister government has promised to improve teaching and learning and education in Manitoba.       I ask the Premier: How will he improve learning when he has started a war with teachers, teachers who are the central to improving education and learning for our children?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): Well, I know it's a tendency of some guys, Madam Speaker, to militarize their analogies, but I would say that the member needs to understand–[interjection]
Madam Speaker: Order.
Mr. Palliste…

Raising concerns about the situation at the Forks Market

Monday May 28th I had an opportunity to ask the Minister reponsible for Municipal Affairs about the current situation at the Forks Market.  My questions and the Minister's responses (from Hansard) are below. Mr. Gerrard:The minister of municipal affairs is responsible for the oversight, from a provincial perspective, of The Forks, one of our premier tourist destinations.       With the changes that have happened over the last three or four years, which are making alcohol much more available all over The Forks Market–some are very enthusiastic about this, some are not so–but one of the things that I have been getting a lot of calls about is an increase in individuals who are intoxicated and an increase in crime.       And I'd ask the minister: What will be his approach to these issues?       The other thing that I've been getting a lot of calls about in The Forks corporation is that there are a lot fewer children and families coming in the mornings and at lunch and the early…

An update on the performance of the drug treatment counts

During Concurrence, I had the oppotunity to ask the Minister of Justice about the performance of the drug treatment courts.  My question and the Minister's response (from Hansard) is below: Mr. Gerrard:Can the minister provide an update on the performance on the drug treatment courts? Mrs. Stefanson:Well, I want to thank the member for that question.       And I certainly, I don't have all of the information in front of me right now, but I can say that they do play a significant role, drug and mental health courts, in our system. We know, and the member opposite knows, that mental health and addictions issues are paramount when it comes to our criminal justice system and our modernization strategy in moving forward in looking at ways to find better ways of, rather than incarcerating people, but finding them the help that they need. And so, certainly, those drug courts help out in that fashion, and we will continue to work with stakeholders towards utilizing those tools that we h…

Domestic Violence issues need to be considered in Family Court Cases under the Divorce Act - Minister Stephanson's view

Yesterday at the Manitoba Legislature, I had the opportunity to ask the Minister of Justice whether domestic violence issues should be considered in family court cases under the Divorce Act.  My question and her response (from Hansard) are below.   This is an issue which was discussed in an article in the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday.  The article is available at  this link.




Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): On the family court, the Free Press article today says that domestic violence allegations are often not being taken into account before family court orders are made under the federal Divorce Act, when legally and for the protection of children, they often should be considered.       I'm presuming that the minister would agree that such domestic violence concerns should be taken into account and I'm asking, what will the minister do to make sure that such domestic violence allegations are taken into account under these circumstances?

Mrs. Stefanson: Well, I want to thank th…

Bill 5–The Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Amendment Act

Wednesday May 23 I spoke at third reading on Bill 5 a bill which deals with the protection of whistleblowers.  Bill 5 makes some changes to the original act, specifically bringing school divisions and municipalities and their employees under the act.  For school divisions, it is obligatory that they are under the act.   For municipalities it is voluntary whether a municipality decides to come under the act.   My comments (from Hansard) are below:

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Yes, Madam Speaker, I want to make a few comments. The inclusion, as this bill does, of school districts and school divisions and their employees and municipalities is good.  However there needs to be some assurance that things will move forward so that municipalities are all covered. There may be some concern that only some municipalities will come in on this bill and others will not, and probably the difficulty will be that those, where there's most problems, will be the ones which don't come in or d…

Bill 18–The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Taking Care of Our Children)

Bill 18 provides the legislative framework for providing customary care to Indigenous children in Manitoba through agreements and living arrangements.  Customary care is care which recognizes, reflects and respects the unique customs, culture and heritage of the child's community and which respects the role of the community in raising a child.  I spoke at third reading on this bill on May 24th.  My comments, from Hansard, are below: 

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Children are our future. They are one of the primary reasons why many of us are here as elected  members of the Legislature. The child and family services system in Manitoba has been problematic  for quite a number of years. As chief–Grand Chief Jerry Daniels with the Southern Chiefs' Organization said at committee on May the 9th, "the current child‑welfare system is failing First Nations children and their families. We have a system that incentivizes the apprehension of children, which translates to increased…

Bill 23–The Commodity Futures Amendment and Securities Amendment Act - protecting people's investments

Wednesday May 23, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on Bill 23 which provides an increased ability of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) to regulate investment dealers in Canada, and to file a decision made my an IIROC panel with the courts in order to enforce payment of fines.   It is to be hoped that this bill will enable better enforcement so that Manitobans who have money invested will be protected from unscrupulous investment dealers.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, just–I want to put a few comments on the record on this bill.       Having worked hard to support individuals in the past who were affected by situations in which they lost significant amounts of money from money that had been invested as a result of people, advisors and others, providing poor advice, I believe that this bill is badly needed. It is an important bill, and in the Liberal Party, we are strong supporters of these measures.       I think it is noteworthy that,…

Keeping a close watch on the fire near Little Grand Rapids and Paungassi

Over the last week I have made several statements in the Manitoba Legislature on the fire near Little Grand Rapids and Paungassi.   It has been a very difficult time for people in these two communities.   In Little Grand Rapids the situation became desperate with so much smoke that visibility was drastically reduced and planes could not land.




Wednesday May 23: Mr. Gerrard: I thank the minister for his report. I  want to thank all the emergency personnel and people who are working all over the province to try and address this situation.       I also want to reach out to those who are affected in communities and wish that these major problems which we're facing can be addressed satisfactorily without loss of life.       I also hear from the MLA in Kewatinook, who has talked very recently to people in Little Grand Rapids, that there have already been three homes destroyed in that community. There is, with a map of the fire at Little Grand Rapids, it is extraordinarily close to the co…

Helping out at the Teddy Bears' Picnic

Sunday May 27 was a great day for the Teddy Bear's Picnic.  Lots of children and families were out to have fun and to enjoy their day.  It was good to share a shift with Mayor Brian Bowman, KISS FM host Karly Troschuk, Doug Speirs and the Fort Garry Rotarians.



Bill 7 and moving toward a "no net loss of wetlands" policy

Tuesday May 22, I spoke on Bill 7 in the Manitoba Legislature.   It deals with the provincial approach to surface water and to wetlands.  My comments are below:   Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, a few comments on this legislation. We're in support of the move to a no-net-loss-of-wetlands approach. It was one, as I mentioned earlier, that I brought in an amendment to implement in about 2005, so it's only 13 years later and, finally, we're getting it. So I thank the minister for that.       The Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) has raised some concerns about the mechanism. I think we'll wait and see how it  works and we'll–we may have to address that later  on, but, for the moment, at least we have the no‑net-loss-of-wetlands policy.       I believe we will need to use satellite images as a way of monitoring this. There are now, I'm sure, approaches using automated tracking of satellite images in which it would be fairly easy to monitor change…

National Indigenous People's Day

On Tuesday May 22, I had the honour to be able to speak briefly on a resolution on National Indigenous People's Day on June 21st.  Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this resolution. I join other members of the Legislature in recognizing and celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21st and in celebrating the contributions of indigenous peoples to our life in Manitoba and in Canada and, indeed, globally.       June 21st was originally designated National Aboriginal Day in 1996 during the period when I served as a Member of Parliament, so I remember that time well. It was a Manitoban and Liberal Member of Parliament, Elijah Harper, for Churchill constituency, who led the way in calling for this day dedicated to indigenous peoples       It is important, as we celebrate this day, that we look at what has happened in terms of the past, the problems, the need currently for reconciliation. The historic discrimination and poor treatment of indigen…

Campaigning with Dougald Lamont in St. Boniface

Yesterday, we were out campaigning door to door with our candidate and Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont.   He is working hard with the byelection coming up soon.   Though the byelection has not yet been called it must be held by August 28th.   Thanks to everyone who came out to help, in particular to Member of Parliament Dan Vandal.  If you are interested in helping with Dougald Lamont's election campaign in St. Boniface please call our Manitoba Liberal Party office at 204-988-9380.

Pallister PCs vote against extending the ability of police to detain and help intoxicated persons to those on methamphetamine

On Tuesday May 22, my colleague Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Burrows, introduced for second reading Bill 229, the Intoxicated Persons Detention Amendment Act, a bill which would clarify the current legal situation with respect to the ability of police to detain individuals intoxicated by drugs.   Currently the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act allows police to detain and help individuals who are intoxicated by alcohol.   The situation with respect to the ability of police to detain and help individuals who are intoxicated from taking methamphetamine is less clear.  Indeed, we hear that because of this uncertainty, and because of a court ruling that the Intoxicated Persons Detention Act only applies to alcohol intoxication, the police are sometimes in a difficult situation.  We understand that sometimes police may follow a person who is intoxicated by methamphetamine until he or she commits a crime so that they can detain and help the person with legal certainty.  I have been told of situa…