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Showing posts from March, 2019

The need for more information for residents in areas of Winnipeg with lead contamination

March 21, I asked in Question Period about the lead contamination in Weston and North Point Douglas.   The history of lead contamination goes back to a survey report from 1979 which found that " lead concentration in tree foliage and surface soil from sampling locations in close proximity to the secondary smelters was frequently tenfold the lead concentrations found to accumulate from normal motor emissions in the Winnipeg area."   Weston Elementary School was specifically mentioned as being in an area of high lead concentrations (up to 1245 ug lead per gram of soil).   The 1979 report said specifically " It can be anticipated that lead will accumulated to the same degree in other plant tissues and soils such as those found in vegetable gardens ."  In addition the 1979 report noted that " elevated lead levels have been found in neighbourhood children and employees of secondary lead smelters within the city and much concern has been raised ." The most rec

A tribute to Agriculture in Manitoba

Tuesday March 19 I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature in support of our farmers and others involved in agriculture and food production, distribution and retail in Manitoba on Agricultural Awareness Day. Hon. Jon Gerrard  (River Heights): Madam Speaker, agriculture is at the core of who we are as Manitobans.       All of us have to eat. All of us benefit from the nutritious food produced by farmers. Many of us benefit from the jobs and opportunities which result from us having a strong agricultural industry, a strong food-processing industry and a strong retail and restaurant sector.       Agricultural Awareness Day is a day to pay attention to agriculture. I thank our presenters today–Robyn, Steven and Curtis–who gave us an update on the importance of protein in the food produced on our farms and of new developments in the canola and poultry industries.       Agricultural Awareness Day is an opportunity to connect with individuals in agriculture from all over our province.

Education Report Card - Neepawa Manitoba

Sunday March 17 I was in Neepawa to talk about the future of education in Manitoba.  This meeting was part of a series of meetings on Education which we are calling our "Education Report Card."   As the Manitoba Liberal Party Education critic this is part of my journey to look at how we can develop the best possible education system in our province. We had an excellent in depth discussion of K-12 education in Manitoba. There was a vigorous discussion of the role of school boards in providing local input and local wisdom into the delivery of education.  There was a good discussion of the importance of ensuring that children have the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, and consideration of whether coding should be considered a basic skill in today's digital world. To improve the overall performance of children, it is vital to be able help children who are struggling.   This includes providing optimum support for children with learning disabilities

Ensuring children are in school is important

In Question Period today I asked the Minister of Education what he is doing to ensure children are in school.  Too often children who are not in school are the ones who get into trouble.  Children who stay in school are likely to do well.  The first recommendation of the recent Children's Advocate's report was that the government be much more effective in ensuring children are attending school.   Absenteeism Reduction in Schools Children's Advocate Recommendations Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the children's advocate's report's No. 1 recommendation is to reduce school absenteeism. This is an important recommendation in part because children and youth who are not in school are a primary target for those who want to lure children and youth into using drugs and being sexually exploited.       Reducing absenteeism can help young people get an education, can reduce the use of drugs like meth and can reduce sexual exploitation.    

Comments on the Pallister budget

Tuesday March 12 I spoke in the Legislature on the Pallister government's budget.  My comments are below.   Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):  Madam Speaker, when this session began and the NDP and the Conservatives immediately launched into an afternoon discussion of the SNC-Lavalin situation, I was reminded of what I had heard, a few days before, from former President Barack Obama. He had been asked, when he was in Winnipeg, how was it that you were able to attend to so many different things at once? A President has an extraordinary range of things that he has to be looking after.       And President Obama–former President Obama said: "I like to tell people this story."  It was a story about a fellow who came charging into his office. And the fellow said, "there's a major problem here. It looks like somebody messed up. It needs to be addressed right away."       And President Obama looked at him, and he said, "you know, looks like somebody

Wanipigow Sand Extraction Project - construction proceeding before environmental license is provided

On Monday March 11, I asked in Question Period about the development of the Silica Sand Mine near Hollow Water First Nation.  We have heard from several sources that construction is proceeding at the mine site even though the environmental review and the indigenous consultations have not been completed.   Development of Silica Sand Mine  - Health and Environmental Concerns Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights):       There are issues which need to be addressed with the Wanipigow sand extraction project. The government's own departments' comments on the proposal put forward by Canadian Premium Sands say there are very concerning health issues related to air quality, as silica dust is well known to cause adverse health effects, including acute and chronic silicosis. There are also concerns about groundwater impact, of the handling of tailings and about the lack of a remediation plan when the mine closes.       When will these critical issues be addressed? Hon. Blaine P

Pallister government is slow on mine exploration permits

On Monday March 11, I asked in Question Period about the long wait times for mining exploration permits.  Compared to Saskatchewan which manages permits in a timely fashion Manitoba is very slow.  When Dougald Lamont and I were in northern Manitoba in February we heard a lot about these delays which have resulted in a number of mining companies deciding not to do any exploration in Manitoba.  We were told the delays in issues permits were due to the Pallister government laying off people in the mines branch.   I asked about this in Question Period.  My question and the Minister's answer are below:  As you can see Minister Pedersen was pretending to want to be a Member of Parliament instead of attending to the critical issues which the Manitoba government needs to deal with. Mining Exploration  -  Permit Wait Times Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, when it comes to mining, permits for exploration need to be processed promptly, and environmental and indigenous

Speaking up for safety on our farms

Monday March 11 2019 I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature about farm safety Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, this week farmers across Manitoba will mark this year's theme of Safe & Strong Farms for Canadian Agricultural Safety Week.       This week is intended to emphasize the importance of working with farmers, their families, their employees and farm organizations to promote farm safety. Farmers are, of course, vital to our province, and not only do Manitoba farms and farmers feed our families, but they build economic strength and socioeconomic stability in our province.       It's estimated that between–one in 10 jobs in Manitoba–more than 60,000–depend on direct or indirect spin-offs from agriculture. According to the Canadian agricultural injury reporting–report, in 2017 agriculture ranked fourth as the most hazardous industry in Canada with respect to rates of fatal injury. In terms of absolute numbers of fatalities, there was no more dan