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The need for better attention to northern Manitoba

 On Thursday April 29th, I spoke to a resolution dealing with the lack of attention by the PC government to northern Manitoba.  My comments are below:

Res. 12–Calling on the Provincial Government to Resolve Issues Afflicting Northern Manitoba

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Deputy Speaker, a few comments on this resolution.

      There's no question that the current gov­ern­ment has largely neglected some of the critical needs of the North, and many of these needs have already been discussed. There is a clear need to really take a fresh look at how health care is delivered in the North. We've got too many people, as has already been raised, who are flying in and out. We haven't done the job that we need to do in Manitoba in developing the local health-care providers. Some com­mu­nities have done better than others, but there clearly is a sig­ni­fi­cant way to go.

      The supports for the North have too often relied primarily on transporting people south. The situation in The Pas at OCN, where they have developed a program for diabetes and, because of the improved nature of that program, have actually been able to deliver much more care in the North and have dramatically reduced the number of flights going south because of diabetes. That's the sort of thing that we need to be doing, which is provi­ding more and better care locally all over northern Manitoba.

      When it comes to mining, I asked a question earlier on. There's no doubt that Manitoba has fallen behind in–as a position or as a location for mining activity. I travelled with my colleague, the MLA for St. Boniface, to Thompson before the pandemic and, at that point, when we talked with leaders in the com­mu­nity, they were pointing out that one of the major problems was that the current gov­ern­ment had laid off critical people im­por­tant to the mining industry in northern Manitoba, and this was making and contributing to the problems of improving the situation for mining in northern Manitoba.

      So, the gov­ern­ment can and should be doing much more in the area of mining. I am pleased to have some money in this year's budget for addressing orphan mine sites. It should be accompanied by a program based at the Uni­ver­sity College of the North to develop and expand approaches for northern Manitoba for remediating mine sites and returning them to healthy environments.

      When it comes to highways, we're all too conscious of the sad and tragic death of Danielle Adams on Highway 6, and yet, we haven't heard a plan yet from this gov­ern­ment to address these problematic, difficult con­di­tions on Highway 6 and to make sure that similar accidents don't occur under similar circum­stances again.

      The member for Flin Flon (MLA Lindsey) has talked about highways 6, 60, 10, 391 and 394. But there are many other highways, as well, in northern Manitoba which are omitted and which need attention: Highway 280 to Gillam; Highway 290 north of Gillam; Highway 394 north of Lynn Lake; Highway 396 to Fox Mine; highways 397 and 399 near Lynn Lake; Highway 493 to South Indian Lake; Highway 291 near Flin Flon; Highway 375 to Paint Lake; Highway 283, which goes from The Pas to the Saskatchewan border–that's an im­por­tant highway which has been neglected for too many years; highways 382, 385, 389–sorry–282, 285, 289 near The Pas; Highway 39, a major road between Flin Flon and Thompson; the–Highway 384 to Moose Lake–First Nations com­mu­nities should not be omitted or forgotten; highways 392, 395, 393 near–to and near Snow Lake; Highway 77 to Burrows; Highway 483 to Pelican Rapids; Highway 373 to Norway House; Highway 374 to Cross Lake; Highway 327 to Chemawawin com­mu­nity.

      There are a lot more highways that should not have been omitted in this reso­lu­tion, and, of course, there are also many, many winter roads.

      So I see–and I have travelled many times in the North–I see the lack of attention, adequate attention, to highways in the North and, parti­cularly, curiously, to First Nations com­mu­nities. And there needs to be, oh, I would suggest, a clear 10-year plan on how these are going to be addressed and improved. But we haven't seen that, and we haven't seen it presented in a way that people could have input, people from the North, on what their priorities are.

      And I suggest to the minister of highways that he look at working with people in the North when he goes north this summer and developing approach that their input can be taken in moving forward and improving the northern highways and improving the safety of the northern highways.

      So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will end my remarks here. There is lots more I could have said, but I'll give the chance to others.

      Thank you

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