On Tuesday March 9, I introduced a private members resolution to express thanks and gratitude to all Manitobans who have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution and my comments on it are below (from Hansard). The resolution passed with all party support.
Madam Speaker: The hour is now 11 a.m. and time for private members' resolutions. The resolution before us this morning is the resolution brought forward by the honourable member for River Heights on expressing thanks and gratitude to all those who have carried us through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): I move, seconded by the MLA for St. Boniface, that,
WHEREAS the province is marking a year since the declaration of a global pandemic, and the arrival of the first case of COVID-19 in Manitoba; and
WHEREAS the disease itself, and the measures required to combat it, have required extraordinary efforts on the part of all Manitobans; and
WHEREAS workers from all industry sectors have gone above and beyond, and the people who keep the province running every day such as grocery store workers and delivery drivers, teachers, EAs and early childhood educators, farmers, and Manitoba manufacturers who stepped up to be bold and innovative with personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; and
WHEREAS many Manitobans, including artists and performers, have been unable to work and have contributed to the safety of others, sacrificing income and opportunity; and
WHEREAS countless Manitobans from every walk of life have risen to the challenge, pushing themselves to the brink to provide care for their fellow Manitobans; and
WHEREAS it has also been a time of suffering and loss, especially for the families of those who lost their lives to COVID.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba formally express its thanks and gratitude to the people of Manitoba who have come together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, it has been a year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Manitoba on March 12th, 2020. The disease itself and the measures required to combat it have required extraordinary efforts by all Manitobans. With all that we, as Manitobans, have been through in the last year, it is time to say thanks to all who have helped in our efforts to survive and to do well–as well as we can during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many of those we thank are unsung heroes, people who, for example, kept our food supply moving so that we were not short of food. This includes everyone to farmers, to those involved in food processing, to truckers who deliver the food to stores and to those who work in retail outlets.
Less than a block from my constituency office is a Food Fare store, and I can attest to their always being there. I can attest to the changes that may–they and many other food service providers have made to ensure safety, including, for example Plexiglas screens in front of the desk at the cash register.
There are many more essential services that have continued to function. We thank the police, firefighters, security personnel and many others. Thanks also to teachers, who have managed under conditions which often changed quickly, from virtual to in-class–and sometimes both at the same time–and the cleaning crews and the office managers who all helped with the extra chores. I know students have appreciated your efforts even when sometimes things were not going perfectly.
Retail stores have been there for us with essential items, from toothbrushes to razors and many others. Pharmacies have made sure people can get their medications that they need. Hair salons and fast-food outlets have been open when they could.
Health-care workers across a wide spectrum have pitched in to do their best, even when, as Winnipeg doctor Jill Horton has emphasized in her book just published, We Are All Perfectly Fine, she said being a doctor is hard work. We thank you. We thank all doctors.
Nurses–including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and psychiatric nurses and health-care aides–have stepped up again and again and again and often work more overtime than they wanted. We thank you. We thank you.
We thank, as well, the allied health workers, respiratory therapists, laboratory technicians, physiotherapists, athletic therapists, chiropractors, dentists, massage therapists, contact tracers, COVID testers and the cleaning staff who work hard to keep us all safe in these spaces.
There are an incredible number of people who have shifted their services and how they deliver them. A yoga provider in River Heights pivoted online as soon as we were initially locked down. To her amazement, she found herself providing yoga classes not just in Winnipeg but across North America.
We owe a big thank you to those who have collected the garbage, never missing a day, all through the pandemic. We owe a thank you to those who cleared the snow in winter and made our streets and sidewalks safe.
For many others, it was not easy or not possible to go online or change directions easily; it has been tough.
We thank the poets and the artists and the performers, many of whom who have tried to entertain us in new ways, singing for balconies on YouTube, for example. But too often, they have not been able to work and they have been struggling to survive.
Thanks also to those who have worked in industries which were severely affected, from airlines to travel agents to hotels to tattoo artists, to many school-bus drivers.
Thanks to everyone who put on a mask and carefully social distanced for so long and who continues to do so.
Thanks to those who understood the mental stresses and strains happening during the pandemic and stepped forward to help others.
We have learned much of the struggles of those with disabilities and those who are challenged, experiencing homelessness. I think we have a new appreciation for the challenges you face. We thank you for helping us understand the realities of life in COVID.
We also thank those who have given time and effort to help, whether looking after a brother with Larsen syndrome or with cerebral palsy, or a parent with dementia. These tasks of love are not easy, but they are so appreciated. Families, from great-grandparents to grandparents to parents to children to brothers to cousins and so many more, have connected and pulled together in new ways.
Thanks to those who came forward and–with innovative ideas, including those who helped get vaccines developed or provided new ways of doing or working. We have a new realization of the digital world, for it has become, more than ever before, the world so many have spent so much time in.
Thanks to those who were involved in research to better understand the treatment and prevention for COVID‑19.
Thanks to those who produced masks and other personal protective equipment. Thanks to those who worked in other areas of manufacturing, which received less attention but were no less important.
And a thank you to all the staff in our Legislative Assembly, because they have done so much to make our work as MLAs possible.
Mr. Len Isleifson, Acting Speaker, in the Chair
We remember the many who have passed away during this pandemic. I remember, personally, my brother-in-law passing away from COVID‑19. It has been a difficult time. We thank those who have reached out to console and help those who have lost loved ones.
From the heroic to the mundane, people around the province have chipped in to help out in their own communities, often in new ways, sometimes just by staying home and not visiting others in person, all in the efforts to reduce the spread of the mutating SARS‑CoV‑2 virus which has caused this devilish pandemic.
Remarkably, except for the runs on toilet paper early in the pandemic, essential items have been readily available.
It has been a year that we will always remember. A year later, now as the days are getting longer and warmer, as the bitter cold of winter–and its severe impact on those who were homeless–is ending, as the number of infections are trending down, we breathe eagerly the spring air and hope with several vaccines now here that we are reaching a time for optimism. We feel swept up in it, hopeful, yet still concerned lest a third wave might come.
It is time to give thanks to everyone in Manitoba, from Gretna in the south to Tadoule Lake in the north, from Roblin in the west to Falcon Lake in the east. Thank you, Manitobans. Thank you. Merci. Miigwech. Salamat po. Dyakuyu. Dhanwaad Ji. Miigwech. Todah. S'efharisto. Gomawo. Xie xie. Arigatou. Shukran. Dhanyavaad. Dhonnobad. Danke schӧn. [Translation, all languages: Thank you] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.