In Question Period on Monday June 11, Judy Klassen, Liberal MLA for Kewatinook asked the government about the air ambulance and wildfire suppression air services in northern Manitoba. Her questions and the Minister's responses (from Hansard) are below.
Air Ambulance Services - Safety and Maintenance
Ms. Judy Klassen (Kewatinook): Thousands of Manitobans rely on our province's air ambulance service. It is a lifeline for northern residents who require urgent medical attention. Northern residents have reached out to me with stories of instrument failure occurring before boarding, even during mid‑flight.
I can't imagine how that additional stress affects the patient when they're facing a critical situation.
Can the minister responsible please share with the House what procedures or safety checklists are in place to keep Manitoba's air fleet in proper working condition?
Hon. Ron Schuler (Minister of Infrastructure): Madam Speaker, not just does our government ensure that the maintenance is continued, these are maintenance standards that are set by the federal government, our government also spends more than $1 million on training our pilots.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Kewatinook, on a supplementary question.
Manitoba's Air Services - Privatization Inquiry
Ms. Judy Klassen (Kewatinook): Madam Speaker, the past two years of this PC government have come with detrimental changes. We would have hoped that the rise in extreme weather incidents would have been a warning to this government to take action, but instead they've decided to privatize wildfire suppression and air ambulance services, emergency services that are keeping Manitobans safe and alive.
Services which are keeping entire communities from burning to the ground are going to be privatized.
Can the minister tell the House why the–doesn't the value of a life supersede the supposed cost saving this government expects to save with these reckless measures?
Hon. Ron Schuler (Minister of Infrastructure): Well, Madam Speaker, I would like take this opportunity to thank all of those who worked on the recent wildfires that took place here in Manitoba.
I'd like to thank our federal partners–the federal government of Canada–and also the Canadian Red Cross for doing an exemplary job. Also, within the government of Manitoba we all participated to ensure that all Manitobans were safe.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for Kewatinook, on a final supplementary.
Ms. Klassen: Wildfire suppression and air ambulances are essential services, not just in theory but under The Government Essential Services Act of 1966, which lists water bombers and air ambulances as such.
It's been proven time and time again that services suffer when a corporation needs to turn a profit. Cuts to northern airports have made it so that a–critical patients are forced to wait outdoors, even in the dead of winter because airports are not open to house them while they're waiting for a medivac to come in and land. This is quite serious.
Knowing that Manitoba's air service saves lives on so many levels, is the government still proceeding with plans to privatize the province's air services?
Mr. Schuler: Madam Speaker, I would advise members of this House to choose their words carefully because misplaced words really matter.
The member opposite first trash-talked all the airplanes that we have and then talked about how wonderful they are. I would like to tell all Manitobans that we take great pride in the fleet that we currently have. We maintain it to a federal standard. These are standards that are set federally on how your airplanes are supposed to be maintained.
We also train our pilots to a federal standard. The Province of Manitoba spends millions of dollars not just maintaining our airplanes, but also training our pilots