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Showing posts from October, 2021

Concerns about lead exposure in children in Manitoba

  Lead exposure is an important cause of learning difficulties in children, in the poor mental health of children, and a contributor to high crime rates.  I commented on this issue on October 7 and asked the Minister of Health what she was doing to address lead exposure of children in Manitoba during Estimates on October 12.  On Wednesday October 7, I commented during a response to a Ministerial statement on mental health that it is important to recognize that lead exposure of children contributes to their poor mental health.   My comments are below (from Hansard). " we need to recog­nize that lead exposure of children and adults is a sig­ni­fi­cant cause of poor mental health. There are now numer­ous studies which show that those who are exposed to lead, parti­cularly but not exclusively in child­hood, have higher rates of mental illness, including but not limited to anxiety and depression.       The gov­ern­ment should take this more seriously than it has and begin testing

The need for better support for the University of Manitoba and its faculty

On Friday October 9, I raised concerns about the government's interference in collective bargaining between the University of Manitoba administration and the faculty.  During the course of the last several weeks, I have had discussions with many faculty members at the University of Manitoba about the situation at the university.   Salaries are low compared to other major universities in Canada, and due as well to the uncertainties created by the style of the Conservative government of the last few years in Manitoba, there have been difficulties in recruiting and retaining professors.   The result has been low morale, and the remaining faculty having to fill in for the empty places which are not filled and for those who have left.   The situation has resulted in critical shortages in some faculties.  In addition faculty who are currently bargaining with the administration at the University of Manitoba, have been told that the provincial Conservative government has been giving direct

Thanking firefighters and others who helped control wildfires in Manitoba this year

 On Tuesday, October 12, I had a chance to thank the firefighters and many others who helped control wildfires in Manitoba this year.   My comments, including thanks to the firefighters who came from South Africa, are below.  Mr. Gerrard:   Madam Speaker, I join other members of the Legislature in thanking the fire­fighters who've done such im­por­tant and valiant work this summer when there were very dry con­di­tions in our province.       This year, Winnipeg set a record in having the smokiest July in history: 137 hours of smoke. There were hundreds of wildfires, covering more than a million hectares. Many people, most parti­cularly from Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids, were displaced, and in the case of these com­mu­nities, for several months. We are seeing the impact of climate change. We will need to develop new, innovative approaches for forest stewardship and for managing fires in the years ahead.       It is important to acknowledge the fire­fighters who came all the

Third reading for Bill 217 - changing the requirements for official party status

 On Tuesday, October 12, I began the debate on third reading of Bill 217, a bill which would change the requirements for official party status in the Manitoba Legislature from the present - four elected MLAs in  a party to two elected MLAs when the party has received more than 10% of the vote in the previous provincial election.   My speech in the debate is below.  As you will note, I quoted from supportive comments made at the committee stage by Paul Thomas, Lloyd Axworthy, Patrick Falcomer and Lloyd Talbot.   CONCURRENCE AND THIRD READINGS–PUBLIC BILLS Bill 217–The Legislative Assembly Amendment and Legislative Assembly Management Commission Amendment Act Madam Speaker:   As previously announced, we will now consider concurrence and third reading of Bill 217, The Legis­lative Assembly Amend­ment and Legis­lative Assembly Manage­ment Com­mis­sion Amend­ment Act. The hon­our­able member for St. Boniface (Mr. Lamont)–oh, sorry, the hon­our­able member for River Heights. Hon. Jon

Provincial Infrastructure issues - Lake Manitoba, Lake St Martin to Lake Winnipeg channels, delays in return of residents of Paugassi and Little Grand Rapids and dam repairs near Neepawa and Rapid City

I had a chance to ask questions to the Minister of Infrastructure in Estimates on Friday October 9.  I asked questions about several infrastructure projects including: 1) The channels from Lake Manitoba, to Lake St. Martin and from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg,  2) The delays in residents from Paungassi and Little Grand Rapids in getting home after fires this summer, 3) repairs to dams near Neepawa and Rapid City.  My questions and Minister Schuler's comments are below:  Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Minister Schuler, what is the timeline for completion of the Lake Manitoba outlet to Lake St. Martin, and the Lake St. Martin then connection to Lake Winnipeg?   Mr. Schuler:         Mr. Gerrard, great to hear from you. Great to hear your voice. Miss you at events, you and your beautiful wife Naomi, and with just so much in common with her love for art, my love for art.       If you want, Mr. Gerrard, you can go onto our public disclosure site, Manitoba Infra­structur

Calling for more attention to the dire straits of many in Afghanistan - particularly those who are relatives of individuals in the Afghan community in Winnipeg

On Thursday, October 8, I spoke on a Member's Statement about the need for more help for those who are in very difficult and dangerous circumstances in Afghanistan, and the need in particular to reach out to help those who are relatives of individuals in the Afghan community in Winnipeg.    Afghanistan–Prov­incial Response Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):   Madam Speaker, the situation today in Afghanistan is be­coming a humanitarian crisis.       Members of the Afghan com­mu­nity in Winnipeg tell me stories of many families who are having to stay in their homes for fear of the Taliban. If they go out, they fear they will be taken by the Taliban or killed by the Taliban. Some are now running out of food and are starving, for they have no way to get food and no money to purchase it. Others, who are in hiding, are having to change locations frequently for fear of being found by the Taliban.       One of the most heart-rending stories I heard was of a father giving his son a

Calling for the replacement of Cochlear Implant speech processors to be covered under medicare in Manitoba

 At noon, on Thursday October 7, there was a rally at the Manitoba Legislature calling for the coverage of replacements for the speech processor for Cochlear Implants.   This coverage has been needed for some time now.  My question the in the Manitoba Legislature and the petition I read the same day are below: Question Period   Cochlear Implant Software -  Prov­incial Coverage for Upgrades Hon. Jon  Gerrard  (River Heights):  M adam Speaker, hearing is critical for com­muni­cation among our fellow human beings. Every­thing possible must be done to ensure our elders can maintain their hearing in their senior years.       At a rally at the Legis­lature today, Gladys Nielsen and many others called for the prov­incial gov­ern­ment to cover the cost of updating the software, the pro­ces­sors in their cochlear implants. These should be covered under medicare so that they–these individuals with  cochlear implants can continue to hear. Petitions signed by 1,000 Manitobans, which Manitoba

Calling for the government to act to clear the massive backlog of surgeries and diagnostic procedures

 This week I was active in calling on the provincial government to implement a plan to address the very large backlog of surgeries and diagnostic procedures.  On Tuesday October 5, we issued a call on the government to deliver the plan to address the crisis - our press release is below: Manitoba Must Act Now To Start Clearing Massive Backlog of Tests and Surgeries Treaty 1 Territory, M├ętis Homeland, Winnipeg, MB - Manitoba Liberal MLAs say the PCs need to immediately get to work with doctors and other health care professionals to come up with a plan for clearing the province’s massive backlog of medical procedures. Wait times for hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery were all getting steadily worse while the PCs cut and froze Manitoba’s health care system, then lists exploded during the pandemic as procedures were cancelled and personnel moved to fighting Covid. Manitoba Liberal Health Critic Dr. Jon Gerrard said it is routine to hear of people waiting more than a year