On Thursday April 8, I asked in Question Period about the delays in vaccinations and the problems which are occurring with the process of delivering vaccinations. As Tom Broadbeck would point out in the Winnipeg Free Press six days later on April 14, with an inventory of 118,318 doses, "There are at least 100,000 Manitobans who should have been immunized by now who aren't. There is no excuse for this. Manitoba's vaccine rollout has gone from utter incompetence to gross negligence." My questions and the responses from the Minister of Health and the Premier are below:
COVID‑19 Vaccine Sites
Accommodations for Seniors
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, Liberals were contacted today by a Manitoban who tried to book a vaccine appointment for her mother, who has Alzheimer's.
When she called to book the appointment, she was told she couldn't accompany her mother, that a health-care aide would do it if–if–one was available, but that the aide might not be able to stay with her and return her mother, who has Alzheimer's, back to her outside. So the appointment wasn't booked.
When she asked assistance for people with disabilities like Alzheimer's, she was told there's a wheelchair ramp.
I ask the Premier: Why do the operators booking vaccine appointments expect seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's to navigate the supersite alone?
Hon. Heather Stefanson (Minister of Health and Seniors Care): Madam Speaker, I thank the member for bringing this issue to the floor of the Legislature, I guess. I would prefer that he would bring it to my office so we can actually find a solution for this to ensure that this individual gets the vaccine that they need.
Madam Speaker, I think it's very important when these issues come forward that we can work together. This is not a time to play politics with this on the floor of the Legislature. This is a very important issue. I suggest the member bring it to my office and we will work with this individual to ensure that this doesn't happen further, that–or, that they get their appointment and that this doesn't happen to anyone else out there.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a supplementary question.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, but these are not just individual cases for constituents, these are systemic issues.
Liberals had another upsetting call from a constituent, an 80-year-old senior who faced severe difficulties when going to the Winnipeg Convention Centre supersite. She went to the centre with her 87‑year-old husband. They were told their daughter couldn't accompany them. They stood in line for three hours.
She has bad knees, but the chairs inside had no armrests, so she couldn't lift herself to standing. She doesn't want anybody to go through this sort of thing again.
Can the Premier make sure by the end of today–today–by the end of today, that it won't happen again?
Mrs. Stefanson: Well, Madam Speaker, I'm sorry for this individual and the experience that they've had. Again, if the member brings it to my office, we would be happy to deal with this.
The member mentions just a couple of cases here, Madam Speaker. This is–and then he says that this is a systemic issue. This is–these are individual cases that should be dealt with. Very important to ensure that these individuals get the vaccines that they need, and we'll continue to work with all Manitobans towards ensuring that those who are eligible get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Madam Speaker: The honourable member for River Heights, on a final supplementary.
Request for Military Assistance
Mr. Gerrard: Yes, Madam Speaker, how did anyone involved in the Premier's supersite facility ever think it was acceptable to force people in their 80s to stand for three hours in line?
There are hiring shortages, while half-trained, half-time workers are staffing critical roles, while people with real expertise are sitting at home waiting to be called. For more than a year, it has never been clear who's been in charge of the pandemic response as fiasco after tragic fiasco rolls out. It's been 390 days of amateur hour.
The former head of emergency measures says it's time to bring in the army. Manitoba Liberals agree.
Does the Premier agree as well? Will he bring in the army?
Hon. Brian Pallister (Premier): Well, Madam Speaker, we're going to bring in the army, and I think we should have done it to get vaccines in this country a lot sooner than has been the case.
I would have to say to the member that what is clear here is that the service that was offered to the two individuals he cited was not properly delivered, and what's clear here is that what is at least as improper is his attempt, through histrionic projections onto the floor of the Legislature, to score cheap political points on the backs of people who need better health care.
So we'll focus on helping the people get better health care, and I hope in future he focuses on the same thing.