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Showing posts from November, 2020

Comments on Bill 9 - The Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery Act.

 The Opioid Damages and Health Care Costs Recovery  Act is designed to allow  Manitoba to participate in a lawsuit with British Columbia and other provinces to recover costs related to opioid addictions from pharmaceutical companies which sold opioid drugs.  I spoke on this bill at Second reading on Wednesday November 25.   Below is a short question and answer from the Minister which occurred before my speech and which is relevant to the content of my speech.  Mr. Gerrard:  To the minister: one of the reasons for pursuing a lawsuit like this is to send a message to other businesses or industries which might get involved in activities which could cause harm.       And I wonder if the minister has given this any thought, and whether there are any other groups or industries that the minister may be considering going after for   harm that has been done to people in Manitoba? Mr. Cullen:  I do appreciate that question as well. Not–there's nothing else top of mind for me right now. C

Comments on a Bill by Wab Kinew to remove political involvement in public health decisions

 While on the  surface it seems reasonable to remove the Premier's involvement in public health decisions, the real answer is to have a Premier who can work together with the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer in the interests of all Manitobans. The problem at the moment is that in Manitoba there is often not a good parallel between the actions of  Premier Pallister and Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Roussin.  For example, just as the number of cases of COVID-19 infections were increasing, Pallister was launching an advertising blitz about opening up Manitoba for business.  Pallister's badly timed advertising efforts led people to be less cautious about COVID-19 at the very time that the infections rate was increasing this fall, and made it more difficult for Dr. Roussin to impose stronger measures initially.  This bill would not have made a difference in the Pallister advertising initiative.   We need a Premier who better understands that the first step in havi

The system delays in people who are homeless getting Employment and Income Assistance are a major barrier

 On Wednesday November 25 I called on the Minister of Families to increase the staffing at her Employment and Income Assistance [EIA] section to speed up the ability of individuals who are homeless to get EIA.  For an individual who is homeless this is a critical first step in being able to get housing.  The delays in getting EIA mean delays in getting access to housing and to food.  As you will see in her answer below, Minister Stefanson avoided answering the question.  I expect she knows about the long delays and does not want to admit there is a problem.  Consider the situation in Medicine Hat where they have done much better than Winnipeg in getting people housing within 48 hours.  In  order to get a person without EIA housing in  48 hours it is necessary to get them on EIA in the first 24 hours and then to get them housing in the next 24 hours.  If, as in Winnipeg, there is a three week delay before even having an intake interview for EIA, this means that the earliest you could po

Improvements to Employment and Income Assistance needed urgently

 Tuesday November 24th, I delivered a Members Statement on the current delays occurring when people need to access Employment and Income Assistance (EIA). When people have an urgent need to get in out of the  cold these long delays in accessing EIA are unacceptable.   My Members Statement is below.  You can also watch it by clicking on this link.   Improvements to EIA are needed People experiencing homelessness are having a difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic.     A critical issue is delay in accessing Employment and Income Assistance.  EIA is needed to get a place to stay and food to eat.  Today an intake appointment to get EIA has a wait of three weeks.    Because the intake interview is on the phone, those who are homeless may not be available on the phone at the time scheduled.  Those who are homeless do not always have access to a phone.  When they do have access, at a thrift store for example, the store may be closed or someone else may be using the phone at the moment

More warming shelters for those experiencing homelessness are critically needed in Winnipeg

 Yesterday, Monday November 23rd, in Question Period asked about plans for those who are experiencing homelessness.   We are coming up to a frigid winter.  We have COVID-19 to deal with.  Many of the places where people who are homeless normally go to - cafes, restaurants, community centres, libraries - are now closed or at best only open for pick up at the door.  It is critical we have more public spaces open as warming shelters for those who are homeless.   My question and the Premier's answer are below.  COVID-19 and the Homeless Population - Use of Public Buildings for Rest Areas Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights): Madam Speaker, the provincial government has the opportunity to save lives from the cold by acting now to open government buildings with washrooms and places for people to sit day and night.             The growing homeless population needs reliable and accessible places to wash their hands as they face increasing barriers with the closure of libraries and commu

A significant source of spread of the COVID-19 virus is by people who are asymptomatic, we need to recognize this and act to reduce such spread

On Thursday November 19, I spoke on a Members Statement in the Manitoba Legislature about the importance of people who are asymptomatic with COVID-19 virus infections in the transmission of the virus.  We need to recognize this and we need, in Manitoba, to implement best practices recommended by experts and which are being used in other jurisdictions. My Members Statement is below. The Importance of Asymptomatic individuals to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic Eleven months ago, as detailed in Bob Woodward’s book RAGE, the United States had intelligence the COVID-19 virus was extremely dangerous.  A major reason was the best estimate from China that 50% of individuals who were infected had no symptoms.   In the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr. Marukas a leading infectious disease specialist, writes - an effective strategy for stopping the spread of this coronavirus “ must focus on detecting both… individuals with and without symptoms”.  She continues “For an aggressive tes

It is time to close schools in Manitoba

The  situation with the COVID-19 pandemic is dire in Manitoba.  Dr. Roussin on Tuesday called the situation scary.  He said our hospitals are at their max.  He said the situation is not sustainable.  That is my assessment as well.  On Tuesday November 17, I  asked the government to act to close schools.  Increasing evidence from a variety of jurisdictions is now showing schools are a significant source of spread of the COVID-19 virus, and that closing schools can be important to better controlling the virus.  There are already hundreds of schools where children have been found to have infections.  My question and the Premier's answer are below:  COVID-19 Outbreak in Schools Request for School Closures Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, we stand today at a very critical time. Manitoba's health-care system is extremely stressed. Resources are challenged to the max. Dr. Roussin himself said today the situation is scary, it is unsustainable. Hospitals are at th

Taking away the Children's Special Allowances by the NDP and then the Pallister Conservatives has been a significant cause of homelessness

 It was after 3 am, as the sitting of the Manitoba Legislature was coming to a close, I spoke one last time on Bill 2 - to make the point that the  NDP and Conservatives taking away the Children's Special Allowances was a significant cause of homelessness among children who aged out of care.    They should have had access to the funds which were being held in trust for them when they aged out of care.  I describe what this has meant to those who were in care and why Bill 2 was wrong.  Sadly my appeal had no effect on the Conservatives who shortly thereafter voted for and passed Bill 2.  Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Two weeks ago, my wife Naomi and I spent 24 hours fasting in the teepee which is in front of the Legislature.        We did this because we believe passionately that children who are in care deserve support, that they deserve to receive the funds that were stolen from them by two governments in a row. It was an honour for Naomi and myself to be there. We began

Cindy Lamoureux, MLA for Tyndall Park, speaks against Bill 2

 On Friday November 6, after 3 am in the morning, Cindy Lamoureux spoke forcefully and effectively against the passage of Bill 2.  Her comments are below.  Ms. Cindy  Lamoureux  (Tyndall Park):   I just wanted to have the opportunity to put a few short words on the record. Our party will not be supporting Bill 2 because it does continue to create a larger wedge in our economic recovery.       We can talk about 800 Adele and how this government continues to put false information on the record. The facts are: the Province chose to evict vulnerable children from a safe space while causing destruction and trauma. The Premier (Mr. Pallister) and some ministers are, in fact, now facing court challenges because of the comments that they have made in response to their mishandling the contract with the owners of the building.       We can also talk about the obstacles for children in care that this government continues to put in place, talk about CFS special allowance and how this governmen

Dougald Lamont speaks out strongly against the "reprehensible", "legally and morally indefensible" Bill 2

 Early in the morning, just after 3 am, on November 6th, Dougald Lamont spoke at third reading of Bill 2, the Budget Implementation and Statutes Amendment Act.  He spoke strongly against the bill because it attempts to legitimize a historic injustice against children in the care of child and family services.  As  Dougald says this bill is " the betrayal of children, First Nations and the people of this province. " Mr. Dougald  Lamont  (St. Boniface):   These are historic times. This is an  historic budget, for all the wrong reasons.  I was thinking of the Premier's (Mr. Pallister) comments about D-Day today and my relatives who served in combat in the First and Second World War. I had a relative who played for the Blue Bombers and served at D-Day with the Winnipeg Rifles because he was an excellent athlete, he made it quite a long way up the beach.       And had he lived until last year, he might have been one of the veterans the Premier insulted by not showing up at a

Exposing the Pallister government's about face in its approach to the children's special allowances

 On Thursday November 5, I spoke at second reading of Bill 2 The Budget Implementation and Tax Statues Amendment Act. This bill has been the subject of much attention because it includes measures which are designed to confirm the government's taking away of money's from children in the care of child and family services, and to prevent any court action against the government for taking this action.  As  I point out in my comments on Bill 2, in 2015 and early 2016, when Brian Pallister was the leader of the Opposition, his team called the  taking away of this money from children in care illegal and immoral.  I spoke against Bill 2 because of this clause and I reminded the Premier that he was doubling down on an action (taking the money from children in care), which his team had called "illegal and immoral" while he was the leader.  I also spoke against the clauses in this bill which deal with breaking a contract for a facility that was being used to help children in dif

Standing up for restaurants and restauranteurs in River Heights

 On Thursday November 5, I spoke at second reading on a budget bill on the situation of businesses, particularly restaurants, in River Heights.  I have been receiving a number of emails from restaurant owners in  River Heights and I  wanted to make sure  their point of view was being better represented. My comments,  from Hansard, are below.  Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Yes, Madam Speaker, I want to take what the member for St. Boniface (Mr. Lamont) has talked about in terms of the big level down to the local situation in River Heights, where I'm getting many people writing in for one reason or another. But let me start with our local restaurants in River Heights. And I'm sure many other constituencies have similar situations.       As Manitoba continues to endure the second wave of COVID-19, restaurants are being singled out and are struggling. There have been a lot more restrictions placed on restaurants, yet no data has been provided and there has been no help of

By not spending money to get prepared for the second wave of COVID-19, the Pallister government has cost our province and businesses a lot of money

Spending wisely often involves preparing well for potential problems coming up.  This summer the Pallister government could have spend modestly on preparations for the Second Wave of COVID-10 and prevented the huge surge in cases which we have seen.  Preventing the current crisis by preparing in advance would have dramatically reduced the amount of expenditures now needed.   Preventing the current crisis by preparing well in advance would have meant businesses could have stayed open instead of going into lockdown. I spoke of this on Thursday November 5 during debate on a major budget bill. My comments are below.   Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, I want to put a few words on the record about the appalling fiscal management of this government.       There are times when, if you've got a good approach to preventing problems, then you can save huge amounts of money. And what we've seen with this government is that in July and August and September, they just w