Skip to main content

The Pallister Conservatives have a pattern of not adequately consulting with people who are affected by their decisions

On Wednesday June 20, I spoke on Bill 29 to talk about the fact that the government has too often not adequately discussed the impacts of measures it takes with the people who are being affected.  My comments in the Legislative assembly are below. 

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Just a few comments on this. I note that in his motion, which we are debating, that the Government House Leader (Mr. Cullen) has suggested that–correctly–that one of the things that was deemed important was having additional consultations and discussions over the summer. The way to do that is to not pass it through to committee, but rather to make sure that those discussions are undertaken and that peoples' views are adequately considered. It is, sadly, something of a pattern that this government has got into, to introduce measures without being able to look at and consult with people who are knowledgeable in the area.
      I would give you an example. The government is–has tabled a report from KPMG which the   government is considering cutting personal audiology equipment, specifically children's hearing aids, bone-anchored hearing implant processors and FM transmitters. The problem is that the government has not adequately talked to people in the field, people who are knowledgeable about the impacts of what this would mean. They have not considered what the cost-benefit analysis would be, or from what we can tell undertaken any cost-benefit analysis. All they have said is, you know, how does Manitoba compare to other jurisdictions? Other jurisdictions could easily have made much poorer decisions than Manitoba in implementing coverage in these areas. So that's a very poor choice of reason in terms of making a decision to cut a program. You should surely do the analysis, you should surely do the consultation and you should surely do the cost-benefit analysis.
      And, Mr. Speaker, in the case of this legislation that we're looking at, you know, we believe that there should be additional consultation. We've heard this from many people in the North. The government says it has consulted all the chiefs in Manitoba, but from what we hear, many feel that they were not adequately consulted and that there is need for some additional discussion with regard to some of the items in this bill, and as I said, the government is moving not just in this area–and it's relevant to this debate–the government is moving not just in this area, it is moving in a whole lot of other areas without adequately talking to people who are experts in the field, people who are going to be affected.
      There is an orthopedic shoes for children subsidy program that the government has–with the KPMG recommendations–looking to cancel the subsidy for. But there hasn't been adequate discussion and consultation with people in the area who'd be affected, with people who are receiving that help with their orthopedic shoes currently, and the result, Mr. Speaker, is, you know, poor decisions. And that's exactly what we're talking about here, that it is really important to be able to discuss and to have that dialogue which is so necessary with people who are going to be affected by this.
      We all know that the safety considerations are very important. We want to make sure that the measures here will adequately deal with those safety considerations. We want to make sure that people who are knowledgeable and involved in this area are actually consulted with. That's what we should be doing this summer rather than immediately passing this bill at second reading.
      I can go on and on. The KPMG report is another example, cutting eyeglasses for seniors. This is a really essential program for seniors, and yet the government is going to cut this without actually having talked to seniors, talked to people in the area, talked about the cost-benefit analysis of what's the impact of having seniors without eyeglasses.
      I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that this would be a situation which would likely be–lead to more falls by seniors so that the cost-benefit analysis would, on a preliminary estimate, suggest that it would be much higher costs.
      And so that the–so that, you know, it's important to know, if you're going to cut something, you may end up with bigger costs elsewhere. And this would be an example. And we want to make sure that we don't end up with a bill which is going to have–address some areas but leave safety loopholes in other areas which are not addressed.
      So I can mention other things: orthotics subsidy programs, telecommunications subsidy programs–all   in the KPMG report, all being cut without considering the views of people who are affected, without considering the views of experts in the field,  without doing a cost-benefit analysis. Surely, Mr. Speaker, this is not the way that we should be proceeding. We should make sure that we have, you know, good consultation, that we've looked very carefully at these issues, we've made sure that we have respected properly the chiefs and others in this area so that what we're going to proceed with is going to be a piece of legislation which is widely and broadly supported, will be respected and will be effective.
      So, you know, Mr. Speaker, I don't need to say a lot more than that, but I did want to bring those points to the record, that the importance of having the summer to be able to look carefully at this important piece of legislation and to make sure that  it's properly considered, you know, is a very reasonable proposition, and it can end up with a better approach, a better management of costs, better results in terms of safety and people supporting the legislation and better overall situation for people in Manitoba.
      So I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the proper approach here is not to support this resolution but to proceed with further consultations over the summer.
      Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba ( red line )  started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota ( blue line )   has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph! Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

Karen Keppler 1953 - 2020

  Karen was an incredible person who helped so many people. She had a heart of gold. Back in 1994 to 1997 we worked closely together to help communities all over Manitoba get connected to the internet. In the years since she has done amazing things.   She has served as Chair of the Winnipeg Library Foundation and helped with raising money for the expansion of the Millenium Library.    She helped many people to get new opportunities through the Selkirk and District Learning Centre and through her activities at the University of Winnipeg and the Herzing College.   She was an entrepreneur who helped many people move forward and start successful businesses.  Karen was very concerned about her community.  In she was   the Manitoba Liberal Party candidate in Sekirk constituency.   When the COVID pandemic came, Karen was really helpful in an effort to get computers for kids in need so that they could learn at home. Even recently when I was working to understand lead pollution and lead effects

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