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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 their limits. We need to act urgently and rationally in reducing transmission.

      One source of significant social contact is our schools. There are an incredible number–171 in Winnipeg and 260 in all Manitoba–with COVID infections in their students or staff, as I table today.

      Will the Premier act today and call for a period of school closures and a time for virtual learning until the outbreak is much better under control?

Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): No, Madam Speaker, I won't do that. And I won't do it because it's not the advice of our medical experts, nor is it the advice of the World Health Organization, nor is any other province in the process of doing it.

      We will look at any number of measures to protect public safety, Madam Speaker, based on the advice of our public health experts, and although the member is a doctor, his expertise is not in this field.

      And so I would again suggest to the member that what we need to do here is to work together and to co‑operate together and to look for solutions together. That's exactly what we're in pursuit of. That's what we're focused on, and I would encourage the member to do what, frankly, most opposition parties and members are doing all over the country: joining the team that is fighting against COVID.

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