Sunday, July 30, 2017

Our Family Fun Day

It was a really good day with many families and their children at our Family Fun Day.

Barbeque in Boissevain Monday July 31.

I am looking forward to being in Boissevain Monday July 31
Roxanne Dan Goodon
Jon Gerrard wants to meet you! Come for supper stay for conversation.
Monday July 31, 2017
Meet Dr Jon Gerrard
Dr Jon Gerrard is your elected Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba for the riding of River Heights. He has held the seat for River Heights since being elected initially in 1999. He is currently running for the Leadership of the Liberal Party of Manitoba.
Between 1985 and 1992, Dr Gerrard was director of pediatric oncology and hematology at the Children’s Hospital. He has also taught medicine at the University of Manitoba between 1980 and 1993.
From 1993 to 1997, Dr Gerrard was secretary of state for the Chr├ętien government. He was the leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party from 1998 until 2013.
Casual conversations and wanting your community input on what is happening within our Province.
Monday July 31, 2017
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
527 Egan St
Boissevain, MB
Home of Daniel and Roxanne Goodon
BBQ and refreshments will be served – come for supper and talk with Dr Gerrard

Grace Lake Airport and its future

Grace Lake Airport July 11, 2017 during my visit

When I was in The Pas two weeks ago, I was able to visit the Grace Lake Airport.  This is the airport that the Conservative government said they wanted to close.  However, this is an important airport which is very close to the community of The Pas and there are considerable reasons for it to stay open.

1) It is the hub airport for Missinippi Air, an important northern airline which provides air services in the north including medical flights going to and from The Pas. 

2)  A reason for closing the Grace Lake Airport was that the cost of operations have been more than the revenue generated so that the province has covered these extra costs in recent years.   Missinippi Air is now providing dollars to cover the extra cost of operating Grace Lake Airport above the existing revenue generated and so this is no longer a reason to close Grace Lake Airport. 

3) The Town of The Pas does have another airport which it operates at Clearwater Lake.   But this airport is much further from The Pas and there are considerable extra costs in paramedic services for transporting people to and from The Clearwater Lake airport.  A taxi ride to the Clearwater Lake airport costs $80 for example, while a taxi ride to the Grace Lake airport is much cheaper.


Though opinion is divided, from my discussions with many people in The Pas, it appears to me that with the operating costs now being fully covered because of the action of Missinippi Air there is no reason to close Grace Lake Airport, and every reason to keep it open so that people in The Pas and the adjacent Opaskwayak Cree Nation can be served well.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Come out to the Liberal Leadership Forum on August 1

Manitoba Liberal Party - Leadership Forum
When
Tue, August 1:   6 pm – 8pm

Where
West End Cultural Centre, 586 Ellice Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1Z8, Canada

Description
This is the first event of the Manitoba Liberal Party's Leadership Contest.  It is a grassroots forum with party members.
Each of the Official Contestants will get an opportunity to speak to the attendees. Then individual members will be able to ask questions. Each contestant will have the chance to respond to each question.
The forum will be moderated by former Manitoba Liberal Party president - Sachit Mehra.
Doors open at 6:00 pm.  The Forum starts at 6:30 pm.
Admission is $5
If you require disability accommodations to participate, please let our Executive Director, Sam Dixon, know in advance.  He can be reached by phone at 204-988-9380 or by email at executive.director@manitobaliberals.ca

Friday, July 28, 2017

Come and join us for a family fun day 2 - 5 pm on Sunday July 30

Enjoy a good fun afternoon with your family, and have a chance to talk with Jon Gerrard about issues of the day for children and families - including child care and early childhood education, our education system, health care in Manitoba and more. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The critical need to improve public policy with respect to brain and mental health in Manitoba

Thank you to the Winnipeg-Transcona Rotary Club for their invitation to speak to them about public policy with respect to brain and mental health.  My talk centred on the need to address changes I am advocating for including - an improved approach to addressing homelessness, employing significant numbers of peer support workers, putting some psychological services under medicare as we do for doctors, addressing lifestyle factors important for optimum brain health and ensuring family and community members are helped by health professionals in providing a circle of support for those with brain and mental health issues.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pallister cuts to public health to keep people well is a false economy

Sadly, too many of the Pallister cuts are misguided because they are aimed directly at reducing budgets for preventing sickness and keeping people healthy.   As this evidence based article systemic review shows, cutting public health budgets is a false economy.

This article at http://jech.bmj.com/content/71/8/827 is a carefully written and analytic piece which shows that what is needed is more emphasis on keeping people health not less. The article concludes:  "This systemic review suggests that local and national public health interventions are highly cost-saving.  Cuts to public health budgets in high income countries therefore represent a false economy and are likely to generate billions of pounds of additional costs to health services and the wider economy."   We should be investing more to keep Manitobans healthy instead of less.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Conservatives need to reverse catastrophic changes planned for Mature Women’s Health

Among the recent Pallister government cuts is the elimination of the Mature Women’s Centre at Victoria Hospital.  This misguided decision will reduce the quality of care for women and will not save many dollars because the result will divest services from a consolidated center of excellence, increase patient visits and will lead to more costly procedures and more expensive health care.

For more than 20 years, the team of physicians, nurses and allied health care workers who are part of the Mature Women’s Centre at Victoria Hospital, have provided superb health care for women throughout the menopause transition and particularly for those with complex issues like abnormal uterine bleeding and uterine fibroids.

The Mature Women’s Centre program is cost effective because:

1)  It is delivered cooperatively, in a nurse-managed fashion, by a superb team which includes a pharmacist, a dietitian and a kinesiologist.  This provides cost-effective use of nurses and allied health professionals to give excellent care.

2)  Surgical procedures normally done in a more expensive operating room setting are conducted in a much lower cost procedure room.  

3) Considerable numbers of women achieve effective alternative treatment which avoids or prevents the need for expensive hysterectomy surgery.

The Costs saved from a) are $144,221 per year, from b) are $283,130 per year, and from c) are from $135,000 to $360,000 per year.  The total cost savings from the Mature Women’s Centre programs are considerable (from 562,311 to $787,311 per year) and argue strongly against closing this program.

The province should build on excellence rather than destroying it.  A government that builds on excellence supports the development of high-quality programs that put patients first.  Building on excellence should be at the very core of our public policy.    

As MLA for River Heights and a candidate to be the next Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party, I call on the Pallister government to immediately restore the Mature Women’s Centre program.  It is vital to keep this high-quality program intact, along with its excellent interdisciplinary health team. 

If you, like me, are opposed to the elimination of the Mature Women's Centre, please email Kelvin Goertzen, the Minister of Health at minhsal@leg.gov.mb.ca or call him at 204-945-3731 to express your concern. 

If I become leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party (“MLP”), I will work vigorously to support excellence in health care in Manitoba rather than destroying it.   Please help me do so by taking out a MLP membership and voting for me at October’s leadership convention.  Click on this link https://www.manitobaliberals.ca/donate  and be sure to put, in the space for a “Note” near the top of the second page (under the email), “in support of Jon Gerrard.”   Thank you for your help. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Flin Flon deserves a strong future

The Triple 7 mine is slated for closure in 2020, and yet the current government, in office for 15 months has not yet presented any plan for Flin Flon’s future.   While there have been false alarms before, when there were concerns that ore in the Flin Flon area may be depleted and Flin Flon’s primary mine might close, this time it seems likely it is for real.  Even if this time it was not a false alarm, there is still need for a plan for Flin Flon.  Where is it?   Why is it not here now? And what should be in the plan?   I was in Flin Flon July 9-11, the latest of many visits to the community.  The first time I was in Flon Flon in 1967, its population was about 11,000.   Today it is just over 5,000. 

Let us look first at elements which are needed in a plan for Flin Flon.  First, in our digital world, there needs to be fast access to the internet – broadband with sufficient capacity to download large amounts of information quickly.   This is an essential need in today’s economy.   It was not achieved in 17 years of the previous government.  A plan is needed to ensure fast internet access is present by 2020, if not before.  Local products and services could find broader markets with the on-line world making Flin Flon close, in cyberspace, to the global market of many billions of people.  The connectivity is also needed for bringing specialist expertise to the community including for brain and mental health, and for distant education to keep youth at home and costs down for parents and students and for teleconferencing to meetings and events.

Second, while Flin Flon’s Triple 7 mine may be gone, and substantial new finds close to Flin Flon are unlikely to be on line by 2020, Flin Flon is still in an important mining belt.  Indeed, the greenstone belt is known worldwide and is visited yearly by geologists and scientists from all over the world.  Flin Flon’s zinc processing facility hopefully will continue to operate, with the Lalor Lake copper-zinc-gold deposits.   But getting future base metal deposits lined up should be a priority, as should keeping hydro rates reasonable. The Northern Manitoba Mining Academy in Flin Flon needs to become much more active.   Today, it needs much better financial support from the province to achieve the results that are needed.     It needs to be more active in research in all areas of industry, particularly in mining including mine remediation, and in training students for varied jobs and opportunities within the mining sector.   It could also do better in linking with Hapnot Collegiate to provide skills training for high school students and greater exposure for Flin Flon students to the mining industry and its opportunities.  When I visited the Academy on July 10, there were students from Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Gods Lake Narrows and Moose Lake learning to be prospectors.  This is an important step, but much more training for varied positions, including mine remediation, is needed.

Third, Flin Flon needs to build on its strengths beyond the mining sector.  Flin Flon has an exceptionally rich cultural community.  Plans for a North Central Canada Centre for Arts and Environment have been put forward.   This Centre needs to be further explored particularly with respect to links to other northern communities and including artistic links to Flin Flon and area’s Indigenous artists.

Fourth, the role of Flin Flon as a northern transportation centre needs to be further explored.  Is it possible to have a road up the west side of Manitoba to Nunavut?  Could that road best go straight north from Flin Flon to Lynn Lake?  Could Flin Flon’s airport also have a greater role?  The possibilities for a larger role for Flin Flon in northern transportation, in road, rail and air need to be advanced.

Fifth, in health care and social services, there are options for action.   For example, Flin Flon has an exemplary telemedicine program which has great potential to be expanded through better and quicker links to specialists, and in improved links to other northern communities.    The possibilities for greater support for training and employment of people in Flin Flon in health care and social services certainly exists within the evolving digital on-line world. 

Sixth, the potential for increased tourism should be explored.   While relying on tourism in a major way is difficult since activity tends to be related to the value of the US dollar compared to Canada’s dollar, all possibilities for increased economic activity should be addressed, including improving local services and opportunities to advance local attractions, including for example a local virtual tourism web site where people can visit the local sites virtually in 3 dimensions before coming to Flin Flon. Recent improvements to the Flin Flon Museum’s displays highlighting local history are a good example of an improvement in the last few years.  We can also learn from others.  In Australia, for example, Kalgoorlie-Boulder has done an excellent job of making mining related attractions of greater interest to tourists.


The current provincial government has been characterized by slow motion and delay.   It is time for action.   2020 is only three years away, and that is a very short period to ensure new opportunities for people in Flin Flon if the Triple 7 mine closes then, as is now expected.  Let’s get moving – for Flin Flon.  Together we can do it.   I welcome comments and suggestions, and I will certainly do my part to help people in Flin Flon. 
With geologist Eckart Buhlmann at the Northern Manitoba Mining Academy. 

Mr. Pallister, on Churchill, it is a time for action, not a time for waiting

The recent meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in Nelson House at the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the election of Grand Chief Arlen Dumas has created an opportunity for action on Churchill. 

The residents of Churchill are waiting for action.  The people of Manitoba are waiting for action.   Yet, the Premier of Manitoba, Mr. Pallister, instead of acting says he wants to wait when it comes to Churchill.

Mr. Pallister’s government has been characterized by waiting and delays.  The brain, mental health and addictions initiative so touted during the election, will not even see a first report on what the government might do until almost half way through the government’s mandate in December 2017. The piecemeal, thousands of cuts approach, to health care has created much uncertainty and poor morale within health care.   Even where announcements have been made, like the badly thought out closing of the Misericordia Urgent Care Centre, the physicians have waited months for clarification on how the wonderful eye care team at the Misericordia Health Centre will be supported.   The Premier campaigned to bring in a carbon tax, but his statements to date have only created uncertainty.   Furthermore, the Premier’s inability to work cooperatively with the federal government has delayed funding for Manitoba for mental health, for home care and in other areas.  

Now, with the election of Arlen Dumas as the new Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, there is a golden opportunity to act quickly to resolve the impasse over the future of the Churchill rail line and the Port of Churchill.  I was at the recent meeting of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in Nelson House at the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and had a chance to talk with many chiefs including our new Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.   He has already spent a great deal of time on the situation of the Churchill rail line and port.  He is ready for action.   But, he needs the province and the federal government as partners.   Mr. Pallister was not at the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs meeting.   It is one of the most important political forum’s in our province.   People asked me “Where is Mr. Pallister?”  His absence was noted.  


Instead of delaying and waiting, Mr. Pallister needs to act.  Even federal Conservative MP, Candice Bergen notes the vacuum created over the future of the port of Churchill and the rail line to Churchill.  That vacuum is there in considerable measure because we have a Premier who has done a great deal to create poor relations with the federal government and is the only Premier who has not even been able to sign the Health Accord and bring money for mental health and home care to Manitoba.    It is time for Mr. Pallister to stop waiting and starting working with others who want to make progress, others who want a solution to the current waiting and delays over the future of Churchill, and who want to help, as quickly as possible, the residents of Churchill, 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Being able to participate matters - Let’s build a more inclusive, accessible Manitoba

Too often, our homes, buildings, and outdoor spaces are designed without sufficient consideration given to how they will impact little people, those with large bodies, or those with disabilities.  Manitoba should become a leader in designing and building new structures so they’re comfortable and accessible to all.  Further, the province needs to do more to adapt our existing infrastructure, so that it meets everyone’s needs.  

The design of our built environment makes daily living a challenge for too many.  A friend, who uses a wheelchair, must call ahead wherever she goes to ensure she can enter a restaurant, store, salon, etc. A young person in River Heights has a struggle each fall to make sure that with his cerebral palsy he is able to get the support he needs to do well in school.  A large-bodied man I know has been bedridden for five months because he lacks access to a usable lift or wheelchair.  Samantha Trubyk, President of the Little People of Manitoba, visited the Legislature recently.  She spoke about the need to adjust the design of light switches, sinks in public bathrooms, and other built features so little people can comfortably use them.

At some point in our lives, many of us will experience these types of challenges firsthand.  After an injury or accident, we may have to use a wheelchair.  Or, as we get older, we may lose our sight or hearing (as my father did in the last decade of his life).  All of a sudden, the spaces we live in can no longer be used by us, or only with great difficulty.  Designing our built environment so that it works for everyone makes our society a better and more inclusive place and allows all Manitobans to be comfortable living and working in their own body.

Patrick Falconer, a Winnipeg-based social policy consultant, has led the effort to establish a “Barrier Free Manitoba” and has been pushing for changes to building and living standards to accommodate all people.  Progress has certainly been made over the last two decades in this regard.  However, it has been far too slow.  The Manitoba government needs to do more.  The reports and recommendations from Barrier Free Manitoba, including the development and implementation of accessibility standards for education and employment need to be implemented without delay.

There are several reasons we need to build a more inclusive, accessible Manitoba.  First of all, it’s the right thing to do.  We should strive to construct a society that does not exclude people because they have a disability or are of a certain shape or size.  Second, building a barrier free province will allow more people to participate in societal activities, increasing health, happiness, and productivity.  Finally, there are strong economic imperatives for action.  Deciding we’re going to become a leader in this area will foster technological innovation, which will help spur economic growth.  The world is moving towards being more inclusive.  The products of the future will be those that work for all.  Let’s encourage Manitoba business and industry to develop products and services that improve accessibility.  In so doing, we not only help build a better world but we also create good jobs for all Manitobans.

If I become leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party (“MLP”), I will work vigorously to push this agenda forward.   Please help me do so by taking out a MLP membership and voting for me at October’s leadership convention.  Click on this link https://www.manitobaliberals.ca/donate  and be sure to put, in the space for a “Note” near the top of the second page (under the email), “in support of Jon Gerrard.”   Thank you for your help.