On Thursday March 11, I asked in Question Period about the current very worrisome outbreak of syphilis in Manitoba and the fact that there are increasing numbers of newborns who are born with neonatal syphilis. It is a tragedy that the Pallister government has done so little to address this. As you can see from his response, Mr. Pallister pivots to blame the federal government even when managing health care is a provincial responsibility. As a provincial Liberal caucus, we would be more than happy to join an all party group to go to Ottawa provided the Pallister government was able to present an adequate plan to address critical issues like this, and to give evidence that new money would be effectively spent to achieve the objectives. Sadly, Mr. Pallister pivots to the federal government in a situation like this because he knows he has has not yet presented an adequate approach to ending the syphilis outbreak. As an additional point, the Premier is not correct that federal support for health care this year is at its lowest level ever.
from Neonatal Syphilis
Prevention Resources Needed
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, there's a major outbreak of syphilis in Manitoba, with the highest rates for syphilis and neo-natal syphilis of any province, and perhaps one of the highest in the world.
Contact tracing for sexually transmitted diseases is short-staffed and less than needed. The latest report of the number of STDs in Manitoba is years behind. Why is the government hiding information?
I ask: How many children have died from neo-natal syphilis? How many children will suffer the life-long consequences of congenital syphilis under this government's watch? And when will the government provide the desperately needed additional funding and resources to get syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia under control in our province?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): Yes, the last three questions have highlighted a serious problem and concern we're actually addressing on a number of fronts, but I would emphasize to my Liberal colleagues that they need to get on board with the NDP and the PC parties, and they need to get behind the call for their federal Liberal cousins to back health care in this country.
They're calling for more funding from us, but they're not calling for the federal Liberals to provide more funding in a partnership with us. And there's an incongruity with that, I think, Madam Speaker, because federal support for health care in our province has dropped to its lowest level ever in the history of Manitoba.
So, I appreciate them raising the issues, I appreciate them calling for us to address them, but I'd like them to join in with the NDP and PC parties here and be part of the unified approach that's happening all across the country in every other province, with the exception of here in Manitoba, unfortunately, where the Liberal Party is not joining in and calling for the federal government to resume its rightful role, its responsible role in supporting programs like the very ones they just asked we address today.