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Showing posts from December, 2020

Homelessness in Winnipeg: we can do much better to help those experiencing homelessness

 Today we released our Manitoba Liberal Caucus report on homelessness in Winnipeg.  We recommend four major steps to be taken: 1) There is a need to provide additional daytime  and 24/7 warming shelters.  We call on the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba to open several community centres so that those who are homeless will have a place to be warm during the day, to get coffee and a bun and to use the washroom.  2) There is a need to shorten the wait time for people to get Employment and Income Assistance (EIA).  EIA is the on-ramp for someone who is homeless to be able to have the financial support to get an apartment.  Currently it takes three weeks just to get an intake appointment to get EIA. And for many who are homeless who miss getting the intake call, there is another three week wait.  We call for the Province to dramatically shorten this wait, so that 90% of people can get EIA in 24 hours as a major step forward in helping people get housed.  3)There is a need for ma

Wishing all a Safe and Happy Christmas and New Year

A safe and Happy Christmas to all, at this tumultuous time of the COVID-19 pandemic.   For some who have lost loved ones, this is a particular difficult time.   We need to remember these tragedies and remember the contributions that those we have lost have made.  We need to reach out to those who are alone or who are suffering.  And even as we have hope for the future, that hope is building on the contributions of many, including the contributions by those we have lost.  Our hope for the future can start  with the new vaccines which are rolling out.  Our hope  from  the future will build on the friends and family we have  and the friends we will get to know this coming year.   As your MLA  in River Heights, my  team is there to help you.   If we can assist  you, send me an email at    

Premier Pallister is wrong when he says no one could have predicted the speed and severity of the second wave

Premier Brian Pallister is just wrong in saying yesterday that "Nobody could have predicted the degree to which COVID came fast."  He was referring to the speed and severity of the COVID-19 virus spreading this fall in Manitoba.   Contrary to what the Premier says, many people were predicting the Second Wave of the pandemic  would  be worse than the first.  Historically this has often happened with pandemics in the past.  In Manitoba in 2009 the H1N1 pandemic was worse in the second wave than during the first wave.  The speed of the pandemic was not a surprise.  COVID-19 infections are well known to rise exponentially when adequate containment measures are not in place.   In jurisdictions like Italy and New York as well as elsewhere we had examples of sudden explosions of cases when the spread of the virus was increasing exponentially.  There was already evidence to suggest that the virus would be worse in winter months, and that spread would be faster as people moved indoors

Putting a focus on addressing homelessness

For the last  several weeks I have been putting a focus on getting better attention to the need to address homelessness.   Part of  this effort was the article below which appeared in the Sou-wester on December 2.     

Conservatives bring closure to Poverty Reduction Committee

Last night in the Legislative Committee dealing with Poverty Reduction, the Conservatives abruptly brought in closure at 7:30 pm. They used their majority to vote to end the discussion even though there remained many questions yet to be asked.  With Bill 29 now before the Legislature, a bill in which the Conservatives will end the annual meetings of the poverty committee, this could be the last meeting of the committee to discuss poverty and social inclusion.   The Conservatives closed the committee for this year, and are also doing it for all years. In my experience over 20 years, last night's committee was unusual in the speed with which the Conservatives moved to terminate the committee meeting.   Once upon a time Brian Pallister said addressing poverty was his top priority.   Yesterday his team showed it is no longer a priority.    It is sad because this happened in a year when evidence suggests poverty is increasing.   For example, the number of people going to Winnipeg Harv

Reporting of COVID-19 test results is still taking far too long

In today's Free Press, it is reported that "Roussin said, people are waiting an average of 55 hours to receive the results of a routine COVID-19 test."    Fifty-five hours is far too long.   Ninety per cent of results need to be reported in 24 hours if testing and contact tracing are to be successful.   Consider this.  Individuals exposed to a person who is has the COVID-19 infection can start transmitting the infection to others on the fourth day afterwards.  This means that reporting of test  results needs to be done in 24 hours and contact tracing needs to be done in the next 24 hours if testing and contact tracing are to effective in helping to control the pandemic.  The third day is needed to catch  the last ten percent of cases missed on the first two days.  An average of 55 hours is far too long.  It means that about half of people do not receive their results for more than 2 days and this means it is likely the contact tracing will not be done before the virus spr

We need better organization and coordination of provincial support for those who are homeless in Manitoba

Wednesday, Dec 2, I asked in Question Period about the need for better provincial coordination and organization in their help for those who are homeless.   There is not now a web site with critical daily information about the availability of shelter beds, of transitional housing, of warming shelters and  other resources for those who are homeless.  We need this level of daily information so that there is publicly available information on the availability of supports. While many who are homeless may not have quick access to the internet, some do, and for others those who are helping them can get this information and share it. We need this web site to help us see the picture of what is available and more easily help those who are homeless get the support they need. We also need to see much better organization and coordination of Employment and  Income Assistance (EIA).  EIA is currently understaffed and the wait  time for getting an intake appointment for EIA is three weeks. This is far

Supporting our provincial parks as vital public spaces

Tuesday December 1,  I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on a Members Statement in support of our provincial parks.  Several weeks ago Manitoba Liberals uncovered evidence that the Pallister government had put out a request for proposals related to our parks.  It focused on how best to "monetize" and get more revenue from our  provincial parks.    There is a concern, arising from this request for proposals that the  Pallister  government is seeking to privatize park spaces and activities within parks.  I spoke of the importance of our parks to all Manitobans and that the focus of our efforts in relation to parks should be on enabling Manitobans to get exposure to nature and physical  exercise  in our parks and why this is so important to our health and well-being.  My Members Statement is below.   You can also see it in video on line at this link.   In Support of Our Provincial Parks Provincial parks are an essential public service.  They were a lifeline for many Manitobans t

Raising concerns about the environmental assessment reviews of the Vivian Sands processing plant and mine.

Monday November 30, I asked, in Question Period, about the environmental assessment reviews which are ongoing with respect to the Vivian Sands Project near Anola Manitoba.  The Company CanWhite Sands is proposing to build a mine to take sand from within the Aquifer and to process the sand and water slurry so that the sand can be sold for various purposes including for fracking.  The mine and the processing plant are very closely linked, yet the company has  chosen  to submit the plant plan for an environmental assessment review first.  In the latest responses to public comments, which were posted November  5, many of the answers  to questions raised were answered with a response which said the answers will  "be fully described in the upcoming  Vivian Sand Extraction Project Environment Act Proposal".   I asked the Minister whether it was her intention to wait for the second review before providing the license for the plant, since so many of the answers to questions about the